Acta Mechanica Solida Sinica

, Volume 23, Issue 6, pp 471–483 | Cite as

Multiscale mechanics of biological and biologically inspired materials and structures

  • Markus J. Buehler


The world of natural materials and structures provides an abundance of applications in which mechanics is a critical issue for our understanding of functional material properties. In particular, the mechanical properties of biological materials and structures play an important role in virtually all physiological processes and at all scales, from the molecular and nanoscale to the macroscale, linking research fields as diverse as genetics to structural mechanics in an approach referred to as materiomics. Example cases that illustrate the importance of mechanics in biology include mechanical support provided by materials like bone, the facilitation of locomotion capabilities by muscle and tendon, or the protection against environmental impact by materials as the skin or armors. In this article we review recent progress and case studies, relevant for a variety of applications that range from medicine to civil engineering. We demonstrate the importance of fundamental mechanistic insight at multiple time- and length-scales to arrive at a systematic understanding of materials and structures in biology, in the context of both physiological and disease states and for the development of de novo biomaterials. Three particularly intriguing issues that will be discussed here include: First, the capacity of biological systems to turn weakness to strength through the utilization of multiple structural levels within the universality-diversity paradigm. Second, material breakdown in extreme and disease conditions. And third, we review an example where the hierarchical design paradigm found in natural protein materials has been applied in the development of a novel biomaterial based on amyloid protein.

Key words

biological materials materiomics mechanics mechanical properties mutability tunability deformation failure 


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Copyright information

© The Chinese Society of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics and Technology 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory for Atomistic and Molecular Mechanics, Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Center for Computational EngineeringMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA
  3. 3.Center for Materials Science and EngineeringMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA

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