Many natural materials demonstrate ideal design inspirations for the development of lightweight composite materials with excellent damage tolerance. One notable example is the layered architecture of nacre, which possesses toughness an order of magnitude higher than its constituent parts. Man-made nacre-like ceramic/polymer composites obtained through direct infiltration of polymer in ceramic scaffolds have been shown to produce improved mechanical properties over other composite architectures. Replacing the polymer phase with metal could provide higher damage tolerance but the infiltration of metal into complex ceramic scaffolds is difficult due to the surface tension of molten metal. To address this, bioinspired nacre-like micro-layered (µL) alumina scaffolds with different ceramic fractions from 18 to 85% were infiltrated with aluminium alloy 5083 via pressureless and squeeze casting infiltrations techniques. The scaffolds were created using a bi-directional freeze-casting and one-step densification method. As a result, the µL alumina/aluminium composites displayed significant extrinsic toughening mechanisms with both high strength and toughness. The mechanical performance was highly dependent on the interface, microstructure, and composition. The nacre-like composites with 18% alumina and AlN interface displayed a maximum resistance‐curve toughness up to around 70 MPa.m½ (35 MPa.m½ at the ASTM limit) and a flexural strength around 600 MPa.
Objective Dental erosion is a common oral condition caused by chronic exposure to acids from intrinsic/extrinsic sources. Repeated acid exposure can lead to the irreversible loss of dental hard tissues (enamel, dentine, cementum). Dentine can become exposed to acid following severe enamel erosion, crown fracture, or gingival recession. Causing hypersensitivity, poor aesthetics, and potential pulp involvement. Improving treatments that can restore the structural integrity and aesthetics are therefore highly desirable. Such developments require a good understanding of how acid demineralisation progresses where relatively little is known in terms of intertubular dentine (ITD) and peritubular dentine (PTD) microstructure. To obtain further insight, this study proposes a new in vitro method for performing demineralisation studies of dentine. Methods Advanced high-speed synchrotron X-ray microtomography (SXM), with high spatial (0.325 µm) and temporal (15 min) resolution, was used to conduct the first in vitro, time-resolved 3D (4D) study of the microstructural changes in the ITD and PTD phases of human dentine samples (~0.8×0.8×5 mm) during 6 h of continuous acid exposure.
•Through-thickness residual stress distribution in three dimensions is evaluated.•High-resolution residual strain is mapped by neutron Bragg edge imaging.•Location-dependent reference lattice spacing is first applied on neutron imaging.•Correlation between microstructure, residual stress and micro-hardness is studied. Eurofer97 steel is a primary structural material for applications in fusion reactors. Laser welding is a promising technique to join Eurofer97 plasma-facing components and overcome remote handling and maintenance challenges. The interaction of the induced residual stress and the heterogeneous microstructure degrades the mechanical performance of such fusion components. The present study investigates the distribution of residual stresses of as-welded and post-heat treated Eurofer97 joints. The mechanistic connections between microstructure, material properties, and residual stress are also studied. The neutron diffraction is used to study the through-thickness residual stress distribution in three directions, and neutron Bragg edge imaging (NBEI) is applied to study the residual strain in high spatial resolution. The microstructures and micro-hardness are characterised by electron backscatter diffraction and nanoindentation, respectively. The M-shaped residual stress distribution through the thickness of the as-welded weldment is observed by neutron diffraction line scans over a region of 1.41 × 10 mm2. These profiles are cross-validated over a larger area (∼56 × 40 mm2) with the higher spatial resolution by NBEI. The micro-hardness value in the fusion zone of the as-welded sample almost doubles from 2.75 ± 0.09 GPa to 5.06 ± 0.29 GPa due to a combination of residual stress and cooling-induced martensite. Conventional post weld heat treatment (PWHT) is shown to release ∼ 90% of the residual stress but not fully restore the microstructure. By comparing its hardness with that of stress-free samples, it is found that the microstructure is the primary contribution to the hardening. This study provides insight into the prediction of structural integrity for critical structural components of fusion reactors.
A cost-effective one-step densification process based on bi-directional freeze casting was investigated to produce nacre-like alumina/poly (methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) composites with a unique micro-layered (μL) architecture. This method has the advantage of shorter processing time, as it requires only sintering once instead of twice as in the fabrication of conventional brick-and-mortar (BM) composites via freeze casting. By tuning the processing parameters, composites with different ceramic content and layer thickness were obtained. The resultant mechanical properties of μL composites showed that ceramic content and wall thickness affected mechanical properties significantly. The μL composite with fine ceramic walls (8 μm) and relatively high ceramic fraction (72 vol%) exhibited an exceptional combination of high flexural strength (178 MPa) and fracture toughness (12.5 MPa m1/2). The μL composites were also compared with the conventional BM composites. Although the fracture behaviour of both composites exhibited similar extrinsic toughening mechanisms, the μL composites with longer ceramic walls displayed superior mechanical properties in terms of strength and fracture toughness in comparison with the BM composites comprising short ceramic walls (i.e. bricks), due to the effectiveness of stress transfer of load-bearing ceramic phase within the composites.
In this manuscript, we elucidated, for the first time, the substructural mechanisms present in our recently developed bioinspired polyurethane-based pancreatic tissue models. Different protein coatings of the model, i.e., collagen and fibronectin were examined. More specifically, analysis took place by combined real-time synchrotron X-ray scattering techniques and confocal laser scanning microscopy, to quantify the structural alteration of uncoated-polyurethane (PU) and protein-coated PU as well as the time-resolved structural reorganisation occurring at the micro-, nano- and lattice length scales during in situ micromechanical testing. We demonstrate that a clear increase of stiffness at the lamellar level following the fibronectin-PU modification, which is linked to the changes in the mechanics of the lamellae and interlamellar cohesion. This multi-level analysis of structural-mechanical relations in this polyurethane-based pancreatic cancer tissue model opens an opportunity in designing mechanically robust cost-effective tissue models not only for fundamental research but also for treatment screening.
In this work, novel bioinspired polyurethane (PU) scaffolds were fabricated via freeze casting for PU-based Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma (PDAC) model. In order to reproduce the tumour micro-environment that facilitates cellular kinetics, the PU scaffolds were surface modified with extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins including collagen and fibronectin (Col and FN). Synchrotron-based small- and wide-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS/WAXS) techniques were applied to probe structural evolution during in situ mechanical testing. Strains at macroscopic, nano-, and lattice scales were obtained to investigate the effects of ECM proteins and pancreatic cell activities to PU scaffolds. Significant mechanical strengthening across length scales of PU scaffolds was observed in specimens surface modified by FN. A model of stiffness modulation via enhanced interlamellar recruitment is proposed to explain the multi-scale strengthening mechanisms. Understanding multi-scale deformation mechanisms of a series of PU scaffolds opens an opportunity in developing a novel pancreatic cancer model for studying cancer evolution and predicting outcomes of drug/treatments.