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The nanocomposite nature of bone drives its strength and damage resistance

Tertuliano, Ottman and Greer, Julia R. (2016) The nanocomposite nature of bone drives its strength and damage resistance. Nature Materials, 15 (11). pp. 1195-1202. ISSN 1476-1122. doi:10.1038/nmat4719.

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In human bone, an amorphous mineral serves as a precursor to the formation of a highly substituted nanocrystalline apatite. However, the precise role of this amorphous mineral remains unknown. Here, we show by using transmission electron microscopy that 100–300 nm amorphous calcium phosphate regions are present in the disordered phase of trabecular bone. Nanomechanical experiments on cylindrical samples, with diameters between 250 nm and 3,000 nm, of the bone’s ordered and disordered phases revealed a transition from plastic deformation to brittle failure and at least a factor-of-2 higher strength in the smaller samples. We postulate that this transition in failure mechanism is caused by the suppression of extrafibrillar shearing in the smaller samples, and that the emergent smaller-is-stronger size effect is related to the sample-size scaling of the distribution of flaws. Our findings should help in the understanding of the multi-scale nature of bone and provide insights into the biomineralization process.

Item Type:Article
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Greer, Julia R.0000-0002-9675-1508
Additional Information:© 2016 Macmillan Publishers Limited. Received 10 November 2015. Accepted 04 July 2016. Published online 08 August 2016. We thank M. Jett for help acquiring bone, C.-L. Guo for help with sample preparation and C. Garland for help with TEM. The authors are grateful for the financial support of the Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies through grant W911NF-09-0001 from the US Army Research Office and the National Science Foundation through O.A.T.’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GFRP). The content of the information does not necessarily reflect the position or the policy of the Government, and no official endorsement should be inferred. Author Contributions: J.R.G. and O.A.T. designed the experiments. O.A.T. performed the experiments, analysed the data, and developed the model. O.A.T. and J.R.G. wrote the manuscript. The authors declare no competing financial interests.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Army Research Office (ARO)W911NF-09-0001
NSF Graduate Research FellowshipUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Biomineralization; Mechanical properties; Scaling laws
Issue or Number:11
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20160630-153358460
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Official Citation:The nanocomposite nature of bone drives its strength and damage resistance Ottman A. Tertuliano & Julia R. Greer Nature Materials 15, 1195–1202 (2016) doi:10.1038/nmat4719
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:68794
Deposited By: Joy Painter
Deposited On:09 Aug 2016 16:57
Last Modified:11 Nov 2021 04:05

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