Nanoscale deformation mechanics reveal resilience in nacre of Pinna nobilis shell

Jiseok Gim, Noah Schnitzer, Laura M. Otter, Yuchi Cui, Sébastien Motreuil, Frédéric Marin, Stephan E. Wolf, Dorrit E. Jacob, Amit Misra, Robert Hovden*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    61 Citations (Scopus)
    48 Downloads (Pure)


    The combination of soft nanoscale organic components with inorganic nanograins hierarchically designed by natural organisms results in highly ductile structural materials that can withstand mechanical impact and exhibit high resilience on the macro- and nano-scale. Our investigation of nacre deformation reveals the underlying nanomechanics that govern the structural resilience and absorption of mechanical energy. Using high-resolution scanning/transmission electron microscopy (S/TEM) combined with in situ indentation, we observe nanoscale recovery of heavily deformed nacre that restores its mechanical strength on external stimuli up to 80% of its yield strength. Under compression, nacre undergoes deformation of nanograins and non-destructive locking across organic interfaces such that adjacent inorganic tablets structurally join. The locked tablets respond to strain as a continuous material, yet the organic boundaries between them still restrict crack propagation. Remarkably, the completely locked interface recovers its original morphology without any noticeable deformation after compressive contact stresses as large as 1.2 GPa.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number4822
    Pages (from-to)1-8
    Number of pages8
    JournalNature Communications
    Publication statusPublished - 23 Oct 2019

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    Dive into the research topics of 'Nanoscale deformation mechanics reveal resilience in nacre of Pinna nobilis shell'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this