Description: Bone is more difficult to break than to split. Although this is well known, and many studies exist on the behavior of long cracks in bone, there is a need for data on the orientation-dependent crack-growth resistance behavior of human cortical bone which accurately assesses its toughness at appropriate size-scales. Here we use in-situ mechanical testing in the scanning electron microscope and x-ray computed tomography to examine how physiologically-pertinent short (<600 mu m) cracks propagate in both the transverse and longitudinal orientations in cortical bone, using both crack-deflection/twist mechanics and nonlinear-elastic fracture mechanics to determine crack-resistance curves. We find that after only 500 mu m of cracking, the driving force for crack propagation was more than five times higher in the transverse (breaking) direction than in the longitudinal (splitting) direction due to major crack deflections/twists principally at cement sheathes. Indeed, our results show that the true transverse toughness of cortical bone is far higher than previously reported. However, the toughness in the longitudinal orientation, where cracks tend to follow the cement lines, is quite low at these small crack sizes; it is only when cracks become several millimeters in length that bridging mechanisms can develop leading to the (larger-crack) toughnesses generally quoted for bone.
Date: May 10, 2008
Creator: Ritchie, Robert O.; Koester, K. J.; Ager III, J. W. & Ritchie, R.O.
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