Quantifying the role of mineral bridges on the fracture resistance of nacre-like composites

Madeleine Grossman, Florian Bouville, Kunal Masania*, André R. Studart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractScientific


The nacreous layer of mollusk shells holds design concepts that can effectively enhance the fracture resistance of lightweight brittle materials. Mineral bridges are known to increase the fracture resistance of nacre-inspired materials, but their role has been difficult to quantify. The challenge has been to isolate and control mineral bridge connectivity in a model composite with microstructures on the same scale as the biological material. In this study, we fabricate these tunable nacre-like composites from highly aligned alumina platelets, interconnected by titania mineral bridges and infiltrated with epoxy matrix phase, and experimentally quantify the influence of mineral bridge density on the fracture properties. Mineral bridge density from image analysis of composite cross sections was correlated with the fracture behavior in mechanical tests and a quantitative model was developed using the insight that shear lag describes the stress transfer through the mineral phase. This model quantitatively describes the relationship between the fracture strength of the composite, platelet strength, and mineral bridge density, which provides powerful guidelines for the design of lightweight brittle materials with enhanced fracture resistance. We illustrate this potential by fabricating nacre-like bulk composites with unparalleled fracture strength, 20% stronger than the previously reported materials.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes
EventECCM18: 18th European Conference on Composite Materials - Athens, Greece
Duration: 24 Jun 201828 Jun 2018
Conference number: 18


ConferenceECCM18: 18th European Conference on Composite Materials
Abbreviated titleECCM18
Internet address


  • Ceramic
  • Microstructured
  • Nacre
  • Polymer matrix composite
  • Tough


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