Dimensional analysis and parametric studies for designing artificial nacre

Jee E. Rim, Pablo Zavattieri, Allison Juster, Horacio D. Espinosa*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Nacre, the iridescent material found in Abalone shells, exhibits remarkable strength and toughness despite its composition of over 95% brittle ceramic. Its hierarchical structure over multiple length scales gives rise to its increase in toughness despite its material composition. In this work we develop a computational model of composites incorporating key morphological features of nacre's microstructure. By conducting a parametric analysis we are able to determine an optimal geometry that increases energy dissipation over 70 times. We discuss the contribution of varying ceramic strengths and size effect to see how this affects the overall performance of the composite. We then compare our simulations to experiments performed on a material possessing the same microstructure investigated computationally. For both simulations and experiments we show that our optimal geometry corresponds to that of natural nacre indicating the importance of specifically incorporating nacre's key morphological and constituent features. This combination of simulations and experiments gives great insight to the delicate interplay between material parameters and microstructure showing that if we optimally combine all aspects, we can develop novel synthetic materials with superior performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)190-211
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomimetics
  • Dimensional analysis
  • Multiscale modeling
  • Nacre
  • Nanocomposites
  • Rapid prototyping
  • Size effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomaterials


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