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J Mech Behav Biomed Mater. 2011 Jul;4(5):670-81. doi: 10.1016/j.jmbbm.2010.08.001. Epub 2010 Aug 7.

New toughening concepts for ceramic composites from rigid natural materials.

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Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Washington, Box 352120, Seattle, WA 98195-2120, USA.


The mechanisms underlying the toughening in rigid natural composites exhibited by the concentric cylindrical composites of spicules of hexactinellid sponges, and by the nacre (brick-and-mortar) structure of mollusks such as Haliotis rufescens (red abalone), as well as the crossed-lamellar structure of Strombus gigas (queen conch) show commonalities in the manner in which toughening takes place. It is proposed that crack diversion, a new kind of crack bridging, resulting in retardation of delamination, creation of new surface areas, and other energy-dissipating mechanisms occur in both natural systems. However, these are generally different from the toughening mechanisms that are utilized for other classes of structural materials. Complementary to those mechanisms found in rigid natural ceramic/organic composites, special architectures and thin viscoelastic organic layers have been found to play controlling roles in energy dissipation in these structures.

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