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Structure-Mechanical Property Relationships In A Biological Ceramic-Polymer Composite: Nacre

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 February 2011

Katie E. Gunnison
Affiliation:
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and Advanced Materials Technology Center, Washington Technology Center, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195
Mehmet Sarikaya
Affiliation:
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and Advanced Materials Technology Center, Washington Technology Center, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195
Jun Liu
Affiliation:
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and Advanced Materials Technology Center, Washington Technology Center, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195
Ilhan A. Aksay
Affiliation:
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and Advanced Materials Technology Center, Washington Technology Center, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195
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Abstract

The structure-mechanical property relationships were studied in nacre, a laminated ceramicpolymer biocomposite found in seashell. Four-point bending strength and three-point bend fracture toughness tests were performed, and the results averaged 180 ± 30 MPa and 9 ± 3 MPa·m1/2, respectively, indicating that the composite is many orders of magnitude stronger and tougher than monolithic CaCO3,, which is the primary component of nacre. Fractographic studies conducted with a scanning electron microscope identified two significant toughening mechanisms in the well-known “brick and mortar” microstructure of nacre: (i) sliding of the aragonite platelets and (ii) ligament formation in the organic matrix. These toughening mechanisms allow for high energy absorption and damage tolerance and thereby prevent catastrophic failure of the composite. The structure of the organic matrix and the interfacial structure between the organic and inorganic components were studied with transmission electron microscopy by using both ion milled and ultramicrotomed sections with and without the intact aragonite platelets. We found that the organic matrix is indeed a multilayered composite at the nanometer scale but is thinner (about 100 Å) than reported in the literature. The morphology of the interfacial region between the organic and the inorganic layers suggests the presence of a structural “transitory” region that interlocks the two dissimilar phases.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Materials Research Society 1992

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