Natural stiffening increases flaw tolerance of biological fibers
Author(s)Giesa, Tristan; Pugno, Nicola M.; Buehler, Markus J.
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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.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Center for Computational Engineering; Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Laboratory for Atomistic and Molecular Mechanics
Physical Review E
American Physical Society
Giesa, Tristan, Nicola Pugno, and Markus J. Buehler. “Natural Stiffening Increases Flaw Tolerance of Biological Fibers.” Physical Review E 86.4 (2012). © 2012 American Physical Society
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