Natural stiffening increases flaw tolerance of biological fibers

Giesa, Tristan and Pugno, Nicola M. and Buehler, Markus J. (2012) Natural stiffening increases flaw tolerance of biological fibers. In «Pysical Review E», vol. 86, Ridge, NY, USA : American Physical Society, 041902-(7 pp.).

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    Many fibers in biomaterials such as tendon, elastin, or silk feature a nonlinear stiffening behavior of the stress-strain relationship, where the rigidity of the material increases severely as the material is being stretched. Here we show that such nonlinear stiffening is beneficial for a fiber's ability to withstand cracks, leading to a flaw tolerant state in which stress concentrations around cracks are diminished. Our findings, established by molecular mechanics and the derivation of a theoretical scaling law, explain experimentally observed fiber sizes in a range of biomaterials and point to the importance of nonlinear stiffening to enhance their fracture properties. Our study suggests that nonlinear stiffening provides a mechanism by which nanoscale mechanical properties can be scaled up, providing a means towards bioinspired fibrous material and structural design.

    Item Type: Article in journal
    FP7 Grant Agreement Number: European Research Council/ERC Starting grant/EU/FP7/279985
    Department or Research center: Civil, Environmental and Mechanical Engineering
    Subjects: T Technology > TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General) > TA164 Bioengineering
    T Technology > TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General) > TA630 Structural Engineering
    Repository staff approval on: 12 Nov 2013 14:43

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