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Biomimetic Materials Research: Functionality by Hierarchical Structuring of Materials

Multiscale structure-functional modeling of musculoskeletal mineralized tissue

Musculoskeletal mineralized tissues (MMTs) are examples of natural materials achieving unique combinations of stiffness and strength. One of the striking features of MMTs is their ability to adapt to different functional demands by different structural arrangements of one common building block, the mineralized collagen fibril, at several levels of hierarchical organization. We have applied multi-scale (from the nanoscale to the macroscale) and multimodal techniques to assess structure, composition, and elastic properties of various MMTs (Hesse et al. 2014, Granke et al. 2013, Malo et al. 2013, Varga et al. 2013, Rohrbach et al. 2012).

Based on these data we have developed mathematical models and corresponding homogenization tools that allow the estimation of elastic properties at different length scales (microscale (Varga et al. 2014), mesoscale (Granke et al. 2015, Tiburtius et al. 2014, Grimal et al. 2011), macroscale (Rohrbach et al. 2015). This enables to decouple characteristic structural features from material properties and hence to study their respective impacts on the elastic functional behaviour at each scale. We now focus on the further improvement of the experimental techniques, e.g. polarized Raman microscopy (Schrof et al. 2014), synchrotron phase contrast nanotomography (Hesse et al. 2015, Langer et al. 2014) and acoustic microscopy with the intention to increase the robustness of the experimental data. Moreover, we systematically apply the models and computational tools to various MMTs and artificial hierarchical structures.

Our ultimate goals are to provide public access to validated data of MMTs at different scales and to dedicated modelling tools as well as to infer generalized construction rules for the in-silico design of hierarchically structured (biomimetic) composites with desired elastic properties.

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