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Nanoscale heterogeneity promotes energy dissipation in bone

Nature Materials volume 6, pages 454462 (2007) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Nanomechanical heterogeneity is expected to influence elasticity, damage, fracture and remodelling of bone. Here, the spatial distribution of nanomechanical properties of bone is quantified at the length scale of individual collagen fibrils. Our results show elaborate patterns of stiffness ranging from 2 to 30 GPa, which do not correlate directly with topographical features and hence are attributed to underlying local structural and compositional variations. We propose a new energy-dissipation mechanism arising from nanomechanical heterogeneity, which offers a means for ductility enhancement, damage evolution and toughening. This hypothesis is supported by computational simulations that incorporate the nanoscale experimental results. These simulations predict that non-uniform inelastic deformation over larger areas and increased energy dissipation arising from nanoscale heterogeneity lead to markedly different biomechanical properties compared with a uniform material. The fundamental concepts discovered here are applicable to a broad class of biological materials and may serve as a design consideration for biologically inspired materials technologies.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank the MIT Department of Materials Science and Engineering Nanomechanical Testing Facility, The Whitaker Foundation and the US Army through the MIT Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies (contract number DAAD-19-02-D0002), and the NIH grant 1-R01-GM076689-01 on multiscale modelling for funding. M.D. and S.S. also acknowledge partial support from the United States Army Research Office and the Joint Improvised Explosive Devices Defeat Organization under contract number W911NF-07-1-0035. The content does not necessarily reflect the position of the government and no official endorsement should be inferred. The authors would also like to thank graphic artist Beryl Simon for preparation of Fig. 2g.

Author information

Author notes

    • Kuangshin Tai
    •  & Ming Dao

    These authors contributed equally to this work

Affiliations

  1. Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA

    • Kuangshin Tai
    • , Ming Dao
    • , Subra Suresh
    •  & Christine Ortiz
  2. Division of Biological Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA

    • Subra Suresh
  3. Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, University of California, One Shields Avenue, Davis, California 95616, USA

    • Ahmet Palazoglu

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Christine Ortiz.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nmat1911

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