Sacrificial bonds and hidden length dissipate energy as mineralized fibrils separate during bone fracture
Properties of the organic matrix of bone(1) as well as its function in the microstructure(2) could be the key to the remarkable mechanical properties of bone(3). Previously, it was found that on the molecular level, calcium-mediated sacrificial bonds increased stiffness and enhanced energy dissipation in bone constituent molecules(4,5). Here we present evidence for how this sacrificial bond and hidden length mechanism contributes to the mechanical properties of the bone composite, by investigating the nanoscale arrangement of the bone constituents(6-8) and their interactions. We find evidence that bone consists of mineralized collagen fibrils and a non-fibrillar organic matrix(2), which acts as a 'glue' that holds the mineralized fibrils together. We believe that this glue may resist the separation of mineralized collagen fibrils. As in the case of the sacrificial bonds in single molecules(5), the effectiveness of this mechanism increases with the presence of Ca2+ ions.