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Nacre in Abalone Shell : : Organic and Inorganic Components and their effects to the Formation and Mechanical Properties


Abalone nacre is a natural composite that exhibits exceptional mechanical properties due to its organization that extends to various levels of hierarchy. Most of the toughness has been attributed by nacre's third level of hierarchy which entitles a brick and mortar structure consisting of the CaCO₃ tiles and organic interlayers. However, there are other important components that are vital to the structure and strength of red abalone nacre. The process of formation of red abalone (Haliotis rufescens) nacre following periods of growth interruption, taking into consideration important environmental factors (access to food and temperature) and to employ high- magnification characterization techniques (scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy) to better understand how the soft tissue (e.g. epithelium and organic membrane) influences the mechanism of growth. The structure-property relationship of red abalone (Haliotis rufescens) nacre, focusing in the individual constituents (isolated mineral and isolated organic component) and comparing that to the integrated structure. Mechanical tests such as, tensile tests, microscratch, and nanoindentation is performed on the isolated organic constituent and the isolated mineral of red abalone shell. Specimens are characterized by SEM to verify the toughening and deformation mechanisms. Results obtained from the isolated mineral validate the importance of the organic constituent as the mechanical properties decline greatly as the organic component is removed. This approach forms a general picture of the mechanical response of the organic interlayers and growth bands and their effect on the toughness of the abalone nacre. These results are significant to understand the important characteristics of abalone nacre, such as the structure and mechanical properties, and an attempt to aid in improving the latest attempts to produce novel nacre-inspired materials

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