Bioinspired nacre-like alumina with a bulk-metallic glass-forming alloy as a compliant phase

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


  • Amy Wat
  • Je In Lee
  • Chae Woo Ryu
  • Bernd Gludovatz
  • Jinyeon Kim
  • Antoni P. Tomsia
  • Takehiko Ishikawa
  • Julianna Schmitz
  • Andreas Meyer
  • Eun Soo Park
  • Robert O. Ritchie

Organisational units

External Organisational units

  • Department of Nuclear Engineering, University of California Berkeley
  • Materials Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • Research Institute of Advanced Materials, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Seoul National University
  • Advanced Analysis Center, Korea Institute of Science and Technology
  • Japan Aerospace Explanation Agency
  • Institut für Materialphysik im Weltraum, DLR


Bioinspired ceramics with micron-scale ceramic “bricks” bonded by a metallic “mortar” are projected to result in higher strength and toughness ceramics, but their processing is challenging as metals do not typically wet ceramics. To resolve this issue, we made alumina structures using rapid pressureless infiltration of a zirconium-based bulk-metallic glass mortar that reactively wets the surface of freeze-cast alumina preforms. The mechanical properties of the resulting Al2O3 with a glass-forming compliant-phase change with infiltration
temperature and ceramic content, leading to a trade-off between flexural strength (varying from 89 to 800 MPa) and fracture toughness (varying from 4 to more than 9 MPa·m½). The high toughness levels are attributed to brick pull-out and crack deflection along the ceramic/metal interfaces. Since these mechanisms are enabled by interfacial failure rather than failure within the metallic mortar, the potential for optimizing these bioinspired materials for damage tolerance has still not been fully realized.


Original languageEnglish
Article number961
Number of pages12
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2019