Freezing as a Path to Build Complex Composites

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Science  27 Jan 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5760, pp. 515-518
DOI: 10.1126/science.1120937

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Materials that are strong, ultralightweight, and tough are in demand for a range of applications, requiring architectures and components carefully designed from the micrometer down to the nanometer scale. Nacre, a structure found in many molluscan shells, and bone are frequently used as examples for how nature achieves this through hybrid organic-inorganic composites. Unfortunately, it has proven extremely difficult to transcribe nacre-like clever designs into synthetic materials, partly because their intricate structures need to be replicated at several length scales. We demonstrate how the physics of ice formation can be used to develop sophisticated porous and layered-hybrid materials, including artificial bone, ceramic-metal composites, and porous scaffolds for osseous tissue regeneration with strengths up to four times higher than those of materials currently used for implantation.

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