Flaw tolerant bulk and surface nanostructures of biological systems

Huajian Gao, Baohua Ji, Markus J. Buehler, Haimin Yao

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingConference article published in proceeding or bookAcademic researchpeer-review


Bone-like biological materials have achieved superior mechanical properties through hierarchical composite structures of mineral and protein. Gecko and many insects have evolved hierarchical surface structures to achieve superior adhesion capabilities. We show that the nanometer scale plays a key role in allowing these biological systems to achieve such properties, and suggest that the principle of flaw tolerance may have had an overarching influence on the evolution of the bulk nanostructure of bone-like materials and the surface nanostructure of gecko-like animal species. We demonstrate that the nanoscale sizes allow the mineral nanoparticles in bone to achieve optimum fracture strength and the spatula nanoprotrusions in Gecko to achieve optimum adhesion strength. Strength optimization is achieved by restricting the relevant dimension to nanometer scale so that crack-like flaws do not propagate to break the desired structural link. Continuum and atomistic modeling have been conducted to verify this concept.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication11th International Conference on Fracture 2005, ICF11
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2005
Externally publishedYes
Event11th International Conference on Fracture 2005, ICF11 - Turin, Italy
Duration: 20 Mar 200525 Mar 2005


Conference11th International Conference on Fracture 2005, ICF11

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology

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