Kuhn-Spearing, L.T., Kessler, H., Chateau, E., Ballarini, R., Heuer, A.H. and Spearing, S.M.
Fracture mechanisms of the Strombus gigas conch shell: implications for the design of brittle laminates
Journal of Materials Science, 31, (24), . (doi:10.1007/BF00356266).
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Flexural strength, crack-density evolution, work of fracture, and critical strain energy release rates were measured for wet and dry specimens of the Strombus gigas conch shell. This shell has a crossed-lamellar microarchitecture, which is layered at five distinct length scales and can be considered a form of ceramic plywood. The shell has a particularly high ceramic (mineral) content (99.9 wt%), yet achieves unusually good mechanical performance. Even though the strengths are modest (of the order 100 MPa), the laminated structure has a large strain to fracture, and a correspondingly large work of fracture, up to 13 kJ m–2. The large fracture resistance is correlated to the extensive microcracking that occurs along the numerous interfaces within the shell microstructure. Implications of this impressive work of fracture for design of brittle laminates are considered.
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