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Concept: Solid mechanics


Under high-strain-rate compression (strain rate approximately 10(3) s(-1)), nacre (mother-of-pearl) exhibits surprisingly high fracture strength vis-à-vis under quasi-static loading (strain rate 10(-3) s(-1)). Nevertheless, the underlying mechanism responsible for such sharply different behaviors in these two loading modes remains completely unknown. Here we report a new deformation mechanism, adopted by nacre, the best-ever natural armor material, to protect itself against predatory penetrating impacts. It involves the emission of partial dislocations and the onset of deformation twinning that operate in a well-concerted manner to contribute to the increased high-strain-rate fracture strength of nacre. Our findings unveil that Mother Nature delicately uses an ingenious strain-rate-dependent stiffening mechanism with a purpose to fight against foreign attacks. These findings should serve as critical design guidelines for developing engineered body armor materials.

Concepts: Materials science, Nature, Young's modulus, Solid mechanics, The Onset, Nacre, Aragonite, Deformation


Classic beam theory is frequently used in biomechanics to model the stress behaviour of vertebrate long bones, particularly when creating intraspecific scaling models. Although methodologically straightforward, classic beam theory requires complex irregular bones to be approximated as slender beams, and the errors associated with simplifying complex organic structures to such an extent are unknown. Alternative approaches, such as finite element analysis (FEA), while much more time-consuming to perform, require no such assumptions. This study compares the results obtained using classic beam theory with those from FEA to quantify the beam theory errors and to provide recommendations about when a full FEA is essential for reasonable biomechanical predictions. High-resolution computed tomographic scans of eight vertebrate long bones were used to calculate diaphyseal stress owing to various loading regimes. Under compression, FEA values of minimum principal stress (σ(min)) were on average 142 per cent (±28% s.e.) larger than those predicted by beam theory, with deviation between the two models correlated to shaft curvature (two-tailed p = 0.03, r(2) = 0.56). Under bending, FEA values of maximum principal stress (σ(max)) and beam theory values differed on average by 12 per cent (±4% s.e.), with deviation between the models significantly correlated to cross-sectional asymmetry at midshaft (two-tailed p = 0.02, r(2) = 0.62). In torsion, assuming maximum stress values occurred at the location of minimum cortical thickness brought beam theory and FEA values closest in line, and in this case FEA values of τ(torsion) were on average 14 per cent (±5% s.e.) higher than beam theory. Therefore, FEA is the preferred modelling solution when estimates of absolute diaphyseal stress are required, although values calculated by beam theory for bending may be acceptable in some situations.

Concepts: Interval finite element, Finite element method, Model, Biomechanics, Solid mechanics, Beam, Torsion, Structural analysis


Strain hardening capability is critical for metallic materials to achieve high ductility during plastic deformation. A majority of nanocrystalline metals, however, have inherently low work hardening capability with few exceptions. Interpretations on work hardening mechanisms in nanocrystalline metals are still controversial due to the lack of in situ experimental evidence. Here we report, by using an in situ transmission electron microscope nanoindentation tool, the direct observation of dynamic work hardening event in nanocrystalline nickel. During strain hardening stage, abundant Lomer-Cottrell (L-C) locks formed both within nanograins and against twin boundaries. Two major mechanisms were identified during interactions between L-C locks and twin boundaries. Quantitative nanoindentation experiments recorded show an increase of yield strength from 1.64 to 2.29 GPa during multiple loading-unloading cycles. This study provides both the evidence to explain the roots of work hardening at small length scales and the insight for future design of ductile nanocrystalline metals.

Concepts: Metal, Solid mechanics, Nickel, Metalworking, Work hardening, Deformation, Dislocation, Ductility


Osteoporosis is characterised by trabecular bone loss resulting from increased osteoclast activation and unbalanced coupling between resorption and formation, which induces a thinning of trabeculae and trabecular perforations. Bisphosphonates are the frontline therapy for osteoporosis, which act by reducing bone remodelling, and are thought to prevent perforations and maintain microstructure. However, bisphosphonates may oversuppress remodelling resulting in accumulation of microcracks. This paper aims to investigate the effect of bisphosphonate treatment on microstructure and mechanical strength. Assessment of microdamage within the trabecular bone core was performed using synchrotron X-ray micro-CT linked to image analysis software. Bone from bisphosphonate-treated fracture patients exhibited fewer perforations but more numerous and larger microcracks than both fracture and non-fracture controls. Furthermore, bisphosphonate-treated bone demonstrated reduced tensile strength and Young’s Modulus. These findings suggest that bisphosphonate therapy is effective at reducing perforations but may also cause microcrack accumulation, leading to a loss of microstructural integrity and consequently, reduced mechanical strength.

Concepts: Bisphosphonate, Osteoporosis, Multiple myeloma, Bone, Osteoclast, Materials science, Tensile strength, Solid mechanics


To enhance the strength-to-weight ratio of a material, one may try to either improve the strength or lower the density, or both. The lightest solid materials have a density in the range of 1,000 kg/m(3); only cellular materials, such as technical foams, can reach considerably lower values. However, compared with corresponding bulk materials, their specific strength generally is significantly lower. Cellular topologies may be divided into bending- and stretching-dominated ones. Technical foams are structured randomly and behave in a bending-dominated way, which is less weight efficient, with respect to strength, than stretching-dominated behavior, such as in regular braced frameworks. Cancellous bone and other natural cellular solids have an optimized architecture. Their basic material is structured hierarchically and consists of nanometer-size elements, providing a benefit from size effects in the material strength. Designing cellular materials with a specific microarchitecture would allow one to exploit the structural advantages of stretching-dominated constructions as well as size-dependent strengthening effects. In this paper, we demonstrate that such materials may be fabricated. Applying 3D laser lithography, we produced and characterized micro-truss and -shell structures made from alumina-polymer composite. Size-dependent strengthening of alumina shells has been observed, particularly when applied with a characteristic thickness below 100 nm. The presented artificial cellular materials reach compressive strengths up to 280 MPa with densities well below 1,000 kg/m(3).

Concepts: Structure, Materials science, Strength of materials, Compressive strength, Solid mechanics, Physical compression, Specific strength, Buckling


To determine whether lower thigh muscle specific strength increases risk of incident radiographic knee osteoarthritis (RKOA), and whether there exists a sex-specific relationship between thigh muscle specific strength and BMI.

Concepts: Obesity, Mass, Body mass index, Strength of materials, Solid mechanics, Specific strength


The strength of olivine at low temperatures and high stresses in Earth’s lithospheric mantle exerts a critical control on many geodynamic processes, including lithospheric flexure and the formation of plate boundaries. Unfortunately, laboratory-derived values of the strength of olivine at lithospheric conditions are highly variable and significantly disagree with those inferred from geophysical observations. We demonstrate via nanoindentation that the strength of olivine depends on the length scale of deformation, with experiments on smaller volumes of material exhibiting larger yield stresses. This “size effect” resolves discrepancies among previous measurements of olivine strength using other techniques. It also corroborates the most recent flow law for olivine, which proposes a much weaker lithospheric mantle than previously estimated, thus bringing experimental measurements into closer alignment with geophysical constraints. Further implications include an increased difficulty of activating plasticity in cold, fine-grained shear zones and an impact on the evolution of fault surface roughness due to the size-dependent deformation of nanometer- to micrometer-sized asperities.

Concepts: Earth, Plate tectonics, Lithosphere, Materials science, Solid mechanics, Deformation, Mantle, Asthenosphere


Although sutures evolved in last decade and the product spectrum broadened largely, they can be still classified into two: monofilament and multifilament. Sutures are the mainstay of orthopedic procedures like fascial closures, tendon repairs or tenodesis. In every repair, a suture loop is created. This suture loop is prone to failure due to suture elongation, knot slip and suture breakage. As the knot is the stress riser in a suture loop, the majority of acute loop failure occurs just adjacent to the knot. Monofilament sutures have higher bending stiffness and tendency to untie than multifilament sutures. The first throw of monofilament sutures have tendency to untie, which decrease loop tension and result in loss of achieved tissue approximation.

Concepts: Orthopedic surgery, Tensile strength, Surgical suture, Elasticity, Solid mechanics, Elastic modulus, Loop, Rope


The purposes of this study were to evaluate the effect on tibiofemoral contact mechanics of repair of the posterior root of the medial meniscus and the effect of meniscal allograft transplantation (MAT) with medial collateral ligament (MCL) release at different flexion angles.

Concepts: Knee, Mechanical engineering, Ligament, Solid mechanics, Medial collateral ligament, Meniscus, Medial meniscus, Contact mechanics


Bone fragility depends on its post-yield behavior since most energy dissipation in bone occurs during the post-yield deformation. Previous studies have investigated the progressive changes in the post-yield behavior of human cortical bone in tension and compression using a novel progressive loading scheme. However, little is known regarding the progressive changes in the post-yield behavior of bone in shear. The objective of this short study was to address this issue by testing bone specimens in an inclined double notch shear configuration using the progressive loading protocol. The results of this study indicated that the shear modulus of bone decreased with respect to the applied strain, and the rate of degradation was about 50% less than those previously observed in compression and tension tests. In addition, a quasi-linear relationship between the plastic and applied strains was observed in shear mode, which is similar to those previously reported in tension and compression tests. However, the viscous responses of bone (i.e. relaxation time constants and stress magnitude) demonstrated slight differences in shear compared with those observed in tension and compression tests. Nonetheless, the results of this study suggest that the intrinsic mechanism of plastic deformation of human cortical bone may be independent of loading modes.

Concepts: Continuum mechanics, Cortical bone, Shear stress, Fluid, Young's modulus, Elasticity, Solid mechanics, Shear strain