(a) Red abalone shell. Inset shows a cross-section cut from the shell. (b) Scanning electron micrograph showing micro/nanostructure of natural nacre. Scale bar, 1 μm. For clarity, a set of tablets is outlined in white. The tablets have two regions, core and overlap17. The overlap region in which relative sliding occurs (arrows indicate direction) is highlighted in magenta. Inset shows a transmission electron micrograph of the inter-tablet bridges23. Scale bar, 100 nm. (c) Artificial composite inspired by nacre, showing dovetailed tablets before polymer infiltration. The length, L, and angle, θ, of the dovetail in the overlap region, are studied parametrically. Scale bar, 5 mm. Inset shows a detail of the inter-tablet bridges. Scale bar, 2 mm.