Nacre, a composite made from biogenic aragonite and proteins, exhibits excellent strength and toughness. Here, we show that nacreous sections can exhibit complete brittle fracture along the tablet interfaces at the proportional limit under pure shear stresses of torsion. We quantitatively separate the initial tablet sliding primarily resisted by nanoscale aragonite pillars from the following sliding resisted by various microscale toughening mechanisms. We postulate that the ductility of nacre can be limited by eliminating tablet interactions during crack propagations. Our findings should help pursuing further insights of layered materials by using torsion.
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Alghamdi S, Tan T, Hale-Sills C, Vilmont F, Xia T, Yang J, Huston D, Dewoolkar M. Catastrophic failure of nacre under pure shear stresses of torsion. Scientific reports. 2017 Oct 13;7(1):1-7.