Journal of Materials Science

, Volume 49, Issue 23, pp 8040–8050 | Cite as

Combination of biological mechanisms for a concept study of a fracture-tolerant bio-inspired ceramic composite material

  • Heide Humburg
  • Eike Volkmann
  • Dietmar Koch
  • Jörg Müssig
Original Paper


The biological materials nacre and wood are renowned for their impressive combination of toughness and strength. The key mechanisms of these highly complex structures are crack deflection at weak interfaces, crack bridging, functional gradients and reinforcing elements. These principles were applied to a more fracture-tolerant model material which combined porous stiff ceramic layers, manufactured by freeze casting, infiltrated and bonded by a polymer phase reinforced with fabric layers. In the hybrid composites, crack deflection occurred at the ceramic–fabric interface and the intact fabric layers served as crack-bridging elements. Fabric-reinforced epoxy layers stabilized the fracture behaviour and delayed catastrophic failure of the material. The influence of the different components was analysed by varying the ceramic, fabric and interface properties. More ductile fabrics lead to larger strain to failure and more crack bridging but reduced the composite strength and stiffness after initial cracking. Higher elastic mismatch between the components improved crack deflection and bridging but resulted in deterred load transfer and a lower strength. The stiffness and strength of the ceramic layers influenced the elastic properties of the laminar composite and the initial crack resistance. Flaw tolerance was increased with polymer infiltration. We show with our hybrid ceramic–fabric composite as a bio-inspired concept study how fracture toughness, work of fracture and tolerance for cracking can be tailored when the contributing factors, i.e. the ceramic, the fabric and their interface, are modified.


Fabric Layer Hybrid Composite Ceramic Layer Crack Deflection Ceramic Plate 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors would like to thank Mr. Rudolf Einsiedel, Cordenka GmbH (Obernburg, Germany) for kindly providing the Cordenka textiles used in this study. The authors would like to thank Professor Dr.-Ing. Kurosch Rezwan, Advanced Ceramics group at the University of Bremen, Germany, for his support. The authors are grateful to Lisa Husemann and Lena Schäfer for helpful discussions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heide Humburg
    • 1
  • Eike Volkmann
    • 2
  • Dietmar Koch
    • 3
  • Jörg Müssig
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biomimetics/The Biological Materials GroupHochschule Bremen – University of Applied SciencesBremenGermany
  2. 2.Advanced Ceramics GroupUniversity of BremenBremenGermany
  3. 3.Department of Ceramic Composites and Structures, Institute of Structures and DesignGerman Aerospace CenterStuttgartGermany

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