Name: Victoria Vilchez

Supervisors: Florian Bouville and Eduardo Saiz

One of the main limitations in the use of ceramics comes from their intrinsic brittleness which makes them very sensitive to defects and prone to catastrophic failure. Natural materials (nacre, bone, dentin) have found ways around this problem by adapting their microstructure at multiple length scales. Such structural hierarchy provides failure mechanisms that increase damage tolerance by several orders of magnitude in comparison to the bulk ceramic they are based upon.

Starting from seashell’s structure blueprint, nacre-like ceramics and composites have recently been developed and can now get properties on par with some of the state-of-the-art composites used in aeronautics. The objective of this project is to characterise the fracture mechanisms in the newly developed materials from the micrometre to the millimetre scale. Based on these results, the next steps will be to rationally design the next generation of bioinspired ceramics by further adapting the microstructure to induce new toughening mechanisms.