High strength and high toughness are usually mutually exclusive in engineering materials. In ceramics, improving toughness usually relies on the introduction of a metallic or polymeric ductile phase, but this decreases the material’s strength and stiffness as well as its high-temperature stability. Although natural materials that are both strong and tough rely on a combination of mechanisms operating at different length scales, the relevant structures have been extremely difficult to replicate. Here, we report a bioinspired approach based on widespread ceramic processing techniques for the fabrication of bulk ceramics without a ductile phase and with a unique combination of high strength (470 MPa), high toughness (17.3 MPa m1/2), and high stiffness (290 GPa). Because only mineral constituents are needed, these ceramics retain their mechanical properties at high temperatures (600 °C). Our bioinspired, material-independent approach should find uses in the design and processing of materials for structural, transportation and energy-related applications.
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We acknowledge the financial support of the ANRT (Association Nationale Recherche Technologie) and Saint-Gobain through a CIFRE fellowship, convention #808/2010. We are indebted to the Centre Lyonnais de Microscopie (CLYM) for access to the FIB microscope. Acknowledgements are due to Guillaume Bonnefont from MATEIS for his assistance on the sintering equipment, and C. Barentin from the ILM for tipping us on the Carbopol to obtain a yield stress suspension.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Bouville, F., Maire, E., Meille, S. et al. Strong, tough and stiff bioinspired ceramics from brittle constituents. Nature Mater 13, 508–514 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/nmat3915
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