The Instrumentation Center



Contributor: Ms. Amstutz class from Clay High School; Herman van Leeuwen from Flexovit; Todd Osborn from Materion; thanks to Rachel Larkin (Flexovit) for sharing her knowledge about the elemental composition of fillers, resin, abrasives, etc.

About the Display:

  • Zirconium metal rods – donated by Todd Osborn from Materion; please also see Be
  • Earrings – Cubic zirconia (ZrO2) is often used in  jewelries as a diamond alternative due to its similar cubic zirconia earrings refractive index. Cubic zirconia is actually a  metastable state and changes with time to  monoclinic zirconia. Therefore, yttria (yttrium oxide) is added to the cubic zirconia, locking the cubic zirconia structure in place and preventing it from changing into the monoclinic form.

Elemental analysis performed at UToledo’s Instrumentation Center shows the existence of yttrium within the cubic zirconia crystal.

EDS abrasiveEnergy Dispersive Spectroscopy of  the abrasive material was performed in the UToledo Instrumentation Center. It confirmed to be a mixture of zirconium oxide (Mohs hardness: 6.5) and aluminum oxide (Mohs hardness: 9) with some titanium oxide likely from the “white” alumina grain. The titanium oxide inclusions make it white.

grinding wheelAnalyses of the abrasive bonded to the grinding wheel. In addition to Al, Zr, Ti and O, we find iron (Fe) from Fe2O3 (Pirox), sodium (Na) and fluorine (F) from Cryolite (Na3AlF6 mineral), calcium (Ca) from limestone, potassium (K) can be found as an impurity in one of the grains and silicon (Si) from the fiberglass used to reinforce the wheel. Copper (Cu) is likely an impurity introduced during sample preparation for elemental analysis.

  • Zirconia is a newer material for dental crowns. ZrO2 is stronger than porcelain and some metal alloys and 10 times stronger than natural teeth enamel.
  • Scalpel are often zirconium oxide coated steel or even 100% zirconia.

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Symbol: Zr

Atomic Number: 40

Atomic Mass: 91.224 u

Electron Configuration: [Kr] 4d25s2 

Year Discovered: 1789

Discovered By: Martin Heinrich Klaproth

Last Updated: 9/27/22