The role of mechanics in biological and biologically inspired materials

H. A. Bruck, J. J. Evans, M. L. Peterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


In the development of new materials, researchers have recently turned to nature for inspiration and assistance. A special emphasis has been placed on understanding the development of biological materials from the traditional correlation of structure to property, as well as correlating structure to functionality. The natural evolution of structure in biological materials is guided by the interaction between these materials and their environment. What is most notable about natural materials is the way in which the structure is able to adapt at a wide range of length scales. Much of the interaction that biological materials experience occurs through mechanical contact. Therefore, to develop biologically inspired materials it is necessary to quantify the mechanical behavior of and mechanical influences on biological structures with the intention of defining the natural structure-property-functionality relationship for these materials. In particular, the role mechanics has assumed in understanding biological materials, and the biologically inspired materials developed from this knowledge, will be clarified. The following will serve to elucidate on this role: the helical structure of fibrous tissue, the multi-scale structure of wood, and the biologically inspired optimal structure of functionally graded materials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-371
Number of pages11
JournalExperimental Mechanics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2002


  • Biomimetic
  • Fibrous tissue
  • Functionally graded materials
  • Hierarchical structure
  • Wood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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