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Concept: Toughness


In the present study, the influence of Ti-containing inclusions on the development of acicular ferrite microstructure and mechanical properties in the multipass weld metals has been studied. Shielded metal arc weld deposits were prepared by varying titanium content in the range of 0.003-0.021%. The variation in the titanium content was obtained by the addition of different amounts of titanium oxide nanoparticles to the electrode coating. The dispersion of titanium oxide nanoparticles, composition of inclusions, microstructural analysis, tensile properties and Charpy impact toughness were evaluated. As the amount of Ti-containing inclusions in the weld metal was increased, the microstructure of the weld metal was changed from the grain boundary allotriomorphic ferrite structure to acicular ferrite with the intragranular nucleation of ferrite on the Ti-containing inclusions, and the mechanical properties were improved. This improvement is attributable to the increased percentage of acicular ferrite due to the uniform dispersion of Ti-containing inclusions and the pinning force of oxide nanoparticles against the growth of allotriomorphic ferrite and Widmanstätten ferrite from the austenite grain boundaries.

Concepts: Iron, Materials science, Electrode, Metallurgy, Toughness, Arc welding, Gas metal arc welding, Shielded metal arc welding


This paper reports on property-process correlations in simulated clinical abrasive adjusting of a wide range of dental restorative ceramics using a dental handpiece and diamond burs. The seven materials studied included four mica-containing glass ceramics, a feldspathic porcelain, a glass-infiltrated alumina, and a yttria-stabilized tetragonal zirconia. The abrasive adjusting process was conducted under simulated clinical conditions using diamond burs and a clinical dental handpiece. An attempt was made to establish correlations between process characteristics in terms of removal rate, chipping damage, and surface finish and material mechanical properties of hardness, fracture toughness and Young’s modulus. The results show that the removal rate is mainly a function of hardness, which decreases nonlinearly with hardness. No correlations were noted between the removal rates and the complex relations of hardness, Young’s modulus and fracture toughness. Surface roughness was primarily a linear function of diamond grit size and was relatively independent of materials. Chipping damage in terms of the average chipping width decreased with fracture toughness except for glass-infiltrated alumina. It also had higher linear correlations with critical strain energy release rates (R(2)=0.66) and brittleness (R(2)=0.62) and a lower linear correlation with indices of brittleness (R(2)=0.32). Implications of these results can provide guidance for the microstructural design of dental ceramics, optimize performance, and guide the proper selection of technical parameters in clinical abrasive adjusting conducted by dental practitioners.

Concepts: Correlation and dependence, Materials science, Young's modulus, Roughness, Fracture toughness, Hardness, Toughness, Strain energy release rate


Metal‒organic frameworks (MOFs) are a class of fascinating supramolecular soft matters but with relatively weak mechanical strength. To enforce MOF materials for practical applications, one possible way seems to be transforming them into harder composites with a stronger secondary phase. Apparently, such a reinforcing phase must possess larger porosity for ionic or molecular species to travel into or out of MOFs without altering their pristine physicochemical properties. Herein we report a general synthetic approach to coat microporous MOFs and their derivatives with an enforcing shell of mesoporous silica (mSiO2). Four well-known MOFs (ZIF-8, ZIF-7, UiO-66 and HKUST-1), representing two important families of MOFs, have served as a core phase in nanocomposite products. We show that significant enhancement in mechanical properties (hardness and toughness) can indeed be achieved with this “armoring approach”. Excellent accessibility of the mSiO2 wrapped MOFs and their metal-containing nanocomposites has also been demonstrated with catalytic reduction of 4-nitrophenol.

Concepts: Matter, Electrochemistry, Materials science, Silicon compounds, Nanocomposite, Work hardening, Hardness, Toughness


Highly mineralized natural materials such as teeth or mollusk shells boast unusual combinations of stiffness, strength and toughness currently unmatched by engineering materials. While high mineral contents provide stiffness and hardness, these materials also contain weaker interfaces with intricate architectures, which can channel propagating cracks into toughening configurations. Here we report the implementation of these features into glass, using a laser engraving technique. Three-dimensional arrays of laser-generated microcracks can deflect and guide larger incoming cracks, following the concept of ‘stamp holes’. Jigsaw-like interfaces, infiltrated with polyurethane, furthermore channel cracks into interlocking configurations and pullout mechanisms, significantly enhancing energy dissipation and toughness. Compared with standard glass, which has no microstructure and is brittle, our bio-inspired glass displays built-in mechanisms that make it more deformable and 200 times tougher. This bio-inspired approach, based on carefully architectured interfaces, provides a new pathway to toughening glasses, ceramics or other hard and brittle materials.

Concepts: Materials science, Titanium, Glass, Array, Stiffness, Hardness, Toughness, Dissipation


Parrotfish (Scaridae) feed by biting stony corals. To investigate how their teeth endure the associated contact stresses, we examine the chemical composition, nano- and micro-scale structure, and the mechanical properties of the steephead parrotfish Chlorurus microrhinos tooth. Its enameloid is a fluorapatite (Ca5(PO4)3F) biomineral with outstanding mechanical characteristics: the mean elastic modulus is 124 GPa, and the mean hardness near the biting surface is 7.3 GPa, making it among the stiffest and hardest biominerals measured; the mean indentation yield strength is above 6 GPa, and the mean fracture toughness is 2.5 MPa.m1/2, relatively high for a highly mineralized material. This combination of properties results in high abrasion resistance. Fluorapatite X-ray absorption spectroscopy exhibits linear dichroism at the Ca L-edge, an effect that makes peak intensities vary with crystal orientation, under linearly polarized X-ray illumination. This observation enables Polarization-dependent Imaging Contrast (PIC)-mapping of apatite, a method to quantitatively measure and display nanocrystal orientations in large, pristine arrays of nano- and micro-crystalline structures. Parrotfish enameloid consists of 100-nm-wide, microns long crystals, co-oriented and assembled into bundles interwoven as the warp and the weave in fabric, and therefore termed fibers here. These fibers gradually decrease in average diameter from 5 microns at the back to 2 µm at the tip of the tooth. Intriguingly, this size decrease is spatially correlated with an increase in hardness.

Concepts: Materials science, Tensile strength, Young's modulus, Elasticity, X-ray absorption spectroscopy, Stiffness, Hardness, Toughness


High strength and high toughness are usually mutually exclusive in engineering materials. In ceramics, improving toughness usually relies on the introduction of a metallic or polymeric ductile phase, but this decreases the material’s strength and stiffness as well as its high-temperature stability. Although natural materials that are both strong and tough rely on a combination of mechanisms operating at different length scales, the relevant structures have been extremely difficult to replicate. Here, we report a bioinspired approach based on widespread ceramic processing techniques for the fabrication of bulk ceramics without a ductile phase and with a unique combination of high strength (470 MPa), high toughness (22 MPa m(½)), and high stiffness (290 GPa). Because only mineral constituents are needed, these ceramics retain their mechanical properties at high temperatures (600 °C). Our bioinspired, material-independent approach should find uses in the design and processing of materials for structural, transportation and energy-related applications.

Concepts: Continuum mechanics, Solid, Materials science, Young's modulus, Hardness, Intensive and extensive properties, Toughness, Charpy impact test


Many natural materials - such as nacre, dentin - exhibit multifunctional mechanical properties via structural interplay between compliant and stiff constituents arranged in a particular architecture. Herein, we present, for the first time, a bottom-up synthesis and design of strong, tough, and self-healing composite using simple but universal spherical building blocks. Our composite system is comprised of calcium-silicate porous nanoparticles with unprecedented monodispersity over particle size, particle shape and pore size, which facilitate effective loading and unloading with organic sealants, resulting in 258% and 307% increase in indentation hardness and elastic modulus of the compacted composite. Furthermore, heating the damaged composite triggers controlled release of the nanoconfined sealant into the surrounding area, enabling moderate recovery in strength and toughness. The innovative concepts and strategies of this work open up an entirely new phase space for fabricating a novel class of biomimetic composites using low-cost spherical building blocks, potentially impacting diverse areas including bone-tissue engineering, insulation, refractory and cementitious materials, and ceramic matrix composites.

Concepts: Materials science, Tensile strength, Young's modulus, Stiffness, Carbon fiber, Nacre, Hardness, Toughness


Provisional restorations represent an important phase during the rehabilitation process, knowledge of the mechanical properties of the available materials allows us to predict their clinical performance. At present, there is no systematic review, which supports the clinicians' criteria, in the selection of a specific material over another for a particular clinical situation. The purpose of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to assess and compare the mechanical properties of dimethacrylates and monomethacrylates used in fabricating direct provisional restorations, in terms of flexural strength, fracture toughness and hardness. This review followed the PRISMA guidelines. The searches were conducted in PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, Scopus, the New York Academy of Medicine Grey Literature Report and were complemented by hand-searching, with no limitation of time or language up to January 10, 2017. Studies that assess and compare the mechanical properties of dimethacrylate- and monomethacrylate-based provisional restoration materials were selected. A quality assessment of full-text articles were performed according to modified ARRIVE and CONSORT criteria and modified Cochrane Collaboration’s tool for in vitro studies. Initially, 256 articles were identified. After removing the duplicates and applying the selection criteria, 24 articles were included in the qualitative synthesis and 7 were included in the quantitative synthesis (meta-analysis). It may be concluded that dimethacrylate-based provisional restorations presented better mechanical behavior than monomethacrylate-based ones in terms of flexural strength and hardness. Fracture toughness showed no significant differences. Within the monomethacrylate group, polymethylmethacrylate showed greater flexural strength than polyethylmethacrylate.

Concepts: Evaluation, Evidence-based medicine, Systematic review, Fracture mechanics, In vitro, Materials science, Fracture toughness, Toughness


The most important properties of self-healing polymers are efficient recovery at room temperature and prolonged durability. However, these two characteristics are contradictory, making it difficult to optimize them simultaneously. Herein, a transparent and easily processable thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) with the highest reported tensile strength and toughness (6.8 MPa and 26.9 MJ m(-3) , respectively) is prepared. This TPU is superior to reported contemporary room-temperature self-healable materials and conveniently heals within 2 h through facile aromatic disulfide metathesis engineered by hard segment embedded aromatic disulfides. After the TPU film is cut in half and respliced, the mechanical properties recover to more than 75% of those of the virgin sample within 2 h. Hard segments with an asymmetric alicyclic structure are more effective than those with symmetric alicyclic, linear aliphatic, and aromatic structures. An asymmetric structure provides the optimal metathesis efficiency for the embedded aromatic disulfide while preserving the remarkable mechanical properties of TPU, as indicated by rheological and surface investigations. The demonstration of a scratch-detecting electrical sensor coated on a tough TPU film capable of auto-repair at room temperature suggests that this film has potential applications in the wearable electronics industry.

Concepts: Engineering, Continuum mechanics, Materials science, Tensile strength, Electronics, Hardness, Thermoplastic elastomer, Toughness


The quest for both strength and toughness is perpetual in advanced material design; unfortunately, these two mechanical properties are generally mutually exclusive. So far there exists only limited success of attaining both strength and toughness, which often needs material-specific, complicated, or expensive synthesis processes and thus can hardly be applicable to other materials. A general mechanism to address the conflict between strength and toughness still remains elusive. Here we report a first-of-its-kind study of the dependence of strength and toughness of cellulose nanopaper on the size of the constituent cellulose fibers. Surprisingly, we find that both the strength and toughness of cellulose nanopaper increase simultaneously (40 and 130 times, respectively) as the size of the constituent cellulose fibers decreases (from a mean diameter of 27 μm to 11 nm), revealing an anomalous but highly desirable scaling law of the mechanical properties of cellulose nanopaper: the smaller, the stronger and the tougher. Further fundamental mechanistic studies reveal that reduced intrinsic defect size and facile (re)formation of strong hydrogen bonding among cellulose molecular chains is the underlying key to this new scaling law of mechanical properties. These mechanistic findings are generally applicable to other material building blocks, and therefore open up abundant opportunities to use the fundamental bottom-up strategy to design a new class of functional materials that are both strong and tough.

Concepts: Hydrogen, Materials science, Cellulose, Metaphysics, Metallurgy, Hardness, Toughness, Cellulose fiber