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Nanoscale deformation mechanisms of a biological nanostructured material – nacre

X. Li and Z-H Xu
University of South Carolina, US

Keywords:
nacre, deformation, rotation, grain

Abstract:
Nature has evolved highly complex and elegant mechanisms for materials design and synthesis. Nacre (mother-of-pearl) is the best example of a bottom-up fabricated natural nanocomposite material that exhibits structural robustness, despite the brittle nature of its constituents. Nacre achieves a twice increase in strength and a thousand fold increase in toughness over its constituent materials. We report that a single nacre aragonite platelet consists of thousands of nanoscale grains and the platelet is plastically deformable. We found that nacre is insensitive to flaws. During deformation, the nanoscale grains rotate to achieve extremely high deformation capacity. The grain rotation mechanism is believed to be one of the major contributions to the nacre’s fracture toughness.

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