Bone toughening through stress-induced non-collagenous protein denaturation

Z. Wang, D. Vashishth, R. C. Picu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Bone toughness emerges from the interaction of several multiscale toughening mechanisms. Recently, the formation of nanoscale dilatational bands and hence the accumulation of submicron diffuse damage were suggested as an important energy dissipation processes in bone. However, a detailed mechanistic understanding of the effect of this submicron toughening mechanism across multiple scales is lacking. Here, we propose a new three-dimensional ultrastructure volume element model showing the formation of nanoscale dilatational bands based on stress-induced non-collagenous protein denaturation and quantify the total energy released through this mechanism in the vicinity of a propagating crack. Under tensile deformation, large hydrostatic stress develops at the nanoscale as a result of local confinement. This tensile hydrostatic stress supports the denaturation of non-collagenous proteins at organic–inorganic interfaces, which leads to energy dissipation. Our model provides new fundamental understanding of the mechanism of dilatational bands formation and its contribution to bone toughness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1093-1106
Number of pages14
JournalBiomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Bone
  • Finite element modeling
  • Fracture toughness
  • Mineralized collagen fibril
  • Non-collagenous proteins


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