Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Composite Material Is Almost Better Than Mother-of-pearl

Date:
March 10, 2008
Source:
ETH Zurich
Summary:
Strong, tough but light is the rare but desired combination of properties for numerous artificial materials. Now a new material is similar to natural mother-of-pearl, but twice as strong. Nacre, or mother-of-pearl, is one of nature's outstanding examples of a durable brick and mortar structure.

Structure of mother-of-pearl (small photo) and the new composite material (large photo).
Credit: courtesy of ETH Zurich, Prof. J. Woltersdorf & amp; Dr. E. Pippel for large photo; small inset photo: Wikipedia

Researchers in ETH Zurich’s Department of Materials (D-MATL) have developed a new nacre-like composite that is twice the strength of naturally-occuring mother-of-pearl. Stronger ceramic platelets combined with ductile biopolymer Chitosan have created composites capable of withstanding a deformation of 25% before rupturing.

Nacre, or mother-of-pearl, is one of nature’s outstanding examples of a durable brick and mortar structure. Made of stiff, inorganic aragonite platelets and ductile biopolymers, the material combines toughness with a surprisingly high degree of strength. The researchers, led by Ludwig Gauckler, Professor of Non-mettalic Inorganic Materials have shown that ceramic alumina platelets and biopolymer Chitosan can be assembled layer-by-layer to form thin foils of a composite material exhibiting a nacre-like structure.

Nearly better than the original

In comparison to the stronger composite material developed, natural nacre deforms only one to two percent before reaching breaking point. Because it is not yet possible to obtain defect-free structures of such high platelet content as nacre, the stiffness of the new composite is five to seven times less than that of its natural counterpart. However, the new composite retains most of the ductility of polymer matrix composites, materials which can be used at high temperatures and are stronger, lighter and more resistant to corrosion.

Conventional thin foils of other materials such as metals, polymers or fiber-reinforced composites may be up to one order of magnitude stronger and stiffer, but few materials reach the same combination of strength and ductibility per unit weight as the new nacre-like foils developed by the ETH Zurich team.

Development of the new nacre-like composite has opened the door to further research, such as manufacturing the foils at high speed. The ETH Zurich team is also exploring the use of different “glues” and platelets of different geometry in order to improve the composite’s mechanical properties. As well under study is the optimization of the platelet-glue interface. This research is currently being carried out in collaboration with Professor J. Woltersdorf and Dr. E. Pippel at the Max Planck Institute for Microstructure Physics in Halle, Germany and the polymer groups at ETH Zurich.

Further research underway

ETH Zurich’s research establishes concepts for tailoring the mechanical properties of composite materials. The combination of nature’s smart structural design with the enhanced properties of artificial building blocks should make possibe the creation of even more composites with similar combinations of mechanical properties.

Future research will address achieving ever-thinner polymer layers and ceramic platelets while maintaining the integrity of the mechanical concept of nacre, as well as researching whether the polymer layer can approach atomic thickness yet keep the nacre-like behaviour of the composite.

Journal reference: Bonderer, Lorenz J., Andrι R. Studart & Ludwig J. Gauckler (2008): Bio-inspired Design and Assembly of Platelet Reinforced Polymer Films, Science Vol. 319, 1069 (2008); DOI: 10.1126/science. 1148726


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by ETH Zurich. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

ETH Zurich. "New Composite Material Is Almost Better Than Mother-of-pearl." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 March 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080307102657.htm>.
ETH Zurich. (2008, March 10). New Composite Material Is Almost Better Than Mother-of-pearl. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080307102657.htm
ETH Zurich. "New Composite Material Is Almost Better Than Mother-of-pearl." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080307102657.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

What This MIT Sensor Could Mean For The Future Of Robotics

What This MIT Sensor Could Mean For The Future Of Robotics

Newsy (Sep. 20, 2014) — MIT researchers developed a light-based sensor that gives robots 100 times the sensitivity of a human finger, allowing for "unprecedented dexterity." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
MIT BioSuit A New Take On Traditional Spacesuits

MIT BioSuit A New Take On Traditional Spacesuits

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) — The MIT BioSuit could be an alternative to big, bulky traditional spacesuits, but the concept needs some work. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) — Jars, bottles, caps and even a pizza box, recovered from the trash, were the elements used by four musical groups at the "RSFEST2014 Sonorities Recycling Festival", in Colombian city of Cali. Duration: 00:49 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Virtual Reality Headsets Unveiled at Tokyo Game Show

Virtual Reality Headsets Unveiled at Tokyo Game Show

AFP (Sep. 18, 2014) — Several companies unveiled virtual reality headsets at the Tokyo Game Show, Asia's largest digital entertainment exhibition. Duration: 00:48 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins