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Emil Zolotoyabko
Emil Zolotoyabko
Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Israel
The structure of natural biocomposites: routes toward improving their mechanical properties

Interplay between soft and hard components in biogenic composites attracts agreat dealof attention of numerous research groups worldwide, aimed at comprehensive understandingofthe physical origin of the improved mechanical characteristicsin these natural materials, and, first of all, the resistance to fracture.In gross mode, this is achieved by sophisticated design of stiff and compliant materials on different length scales. In mineralized biocomposites, which are considered here, the stiff and hard components are mineral particles and layers built of calcium carbonate, silica, or hydroxyapatite. In turn, protein and polysaccharide sub-layers and inclusions serve as soft and compliant components. Despite intensive research, the details of atomic interactions at the organic/inorganic interfaces and their impact on mechanical properties remainyet unclear. In order to shed additional light on this problem, we apply advanced X-ray diffraction and electron microscopy methods attempting to visualize atomic structure and nanoscale ultrastructure of biocomposites. In this paper, we present experimental results obtained for selected mollusk shells, marine sponge spicules, and human tooth dentin. On this basis, we point out specific recipes used in nature for improving mechanical properties, the recipes being different for eachbiocompositetype.

Emil Zolotoyabko is Professor of the Faculty of Materials Science and Engineering at Technion - Israel Institute of Technology and holder of the Abraham Tulin Academic Chair. For six years he served as Faculty Dean. He received M.Sc degree in experimental nuclear physics from Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, and Ph.D and Sc.D degrees - in solid state physics from Physics Institute of the Latvian Academy of Sciences (Riga, Latvia). Research interests of Prof. Zolotoyabko are in diffraction physics, X-ray interaction with acoustic waves, application of synchrotron radiation to materials science, atomic and nanoscale structure of different materials and, especially, biomaterials. He published more than 170 papers in refereed scientific journals, three books, and four books’ chapters.
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