The natural world contains a variety of materials with extraordinary properties. Some natural materials contain unique combinations of strength, stiffness, hardness, toughness, and density that are beyond those of their engineered counterparts with similar phase compositions. Biomimetics is the science of reverse engineering natural materials by understanding the microstructures and mechanisms that contribute to their superior mechanical performance and duplicating them with artificially synthesized materials.
Nanomechanical testing techniques are ideal for characterizing the hierarchical structures of complex biological tissues. By allowing highly localized mechanical property measurements, nanoindentation provides key quantitative structure-function-mechanical property relationships of biocomposites. Knowledge of these relationships over the nanometer and micrometer length scales is critical for the biomimetic inspired design of tomorrow’s materials.