Cracks fail to intensify stress in nacreous composites

Haimin Yao, Zhigong Song, Zhiping Xu, Huajian Gao

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Linear elastic fracture mechanics (LEFM) implies that crack-like flaws would intensify stress in brittle materials with stress intensity scaling up with the square root of the crack size. Therefore, the apparent strength of materials tends to be much smaller than the theoretical value. In this paper, we examine the stress state in nacreous composites and find that in such materials the crack-induced stress intensification and its dependence on crack size can be suppressed greatly. This feature of nacreous composites can be attributed to the unique "brick-and-mortar" (B-and-M) structure and a synergistic match of the mechanical properties between "brick" (e.g. minerals) and "mortar" (e.g. proteins) phases. Our findings not only provide a fundamental insight into the origin of the excellent mechanical properties of nacreous composites such as high strength, high toughness and flaw tolerance, but also will be of great value to the design and synthesis of new structural materials for superior mechanical properties.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-29
Number of pages6
JournalComposites Science and Technology
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jun 2013


  • A. Hybrid composites
  • B. Mechanical properties
  • C. Damage tolerance
  • C. Finite element analysis (FEA)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Engineering(all)


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