The hidden structure of human enamel

Elia Beniash, Cayla A. Stifler, Chang Yu Sun, Gang Seob Jung, Zhao Qin, Markus J. Buehler, Pupa U.P.A. Gilbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Enamel is the hardest and most resilient tissue in the human body. Enamel includes morphologically aligned, parallel, ∼50 nm wide, microns-long nanocrystals, bundled either into 5-μm-wide rods or their space-filling interrod. The orientation of enamel crystals, however, is poorly understood. Here we show that the crystalline c-axes are homogenously oriented in interrod crystals across most of the enamel layer thickness. Within each rod crystals are not co-oriented with one another or with the long axis of the rod, as previously assumed: the c-axes of adjacent nanocrystals are most frequently mis-oriented by 1°–30°, and this orientation within each rod gradually changes, with an overall angle spread that is never zero, but varies between 30°–90° within one rod. Molecular dynamics simulations demonstrate that the observed mis-orientations of adjacent crystals induce crack deflection. This toughening mechanism contributes to the unique resilience of enamel, which lasts a lifetime under extreme physical and chemical challenges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4383
JournalNature Communications
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

Fingerprint

enamels
Enamels
Dental Enamel
rods
Crystals
Crystal orientation
Nanoparticles
Nanocrystals
crystals
nanocrystals
Deflection (structures)
resilience
Toughening
human body
Molecular Dynamics Simulation
Human Body
misalignment
Molecular dynamics
deflection
cracks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

Cite this

Beniash, E., Stifler, C. A., Sun, C. Y., Jung, G. S., Qin, Z., Buehler, M. J., & Gilbert, P. U. P. A. (2019). The hidden structure of human enamel. Nature Communications, 10(1), [4383]. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-12185-7

The hidden structure of human enamel. / Beniash, Elia; Stifler, Cayla A.; Sun, Chang Yu; Jung, Gang Seob; Qin, Zhao; Buehler, Markus J.; Gilbert, Pupa U.P.A.

In: Nature Communications, Vol. 10, No. 1, 4383, 01.12.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Beniash, E, Stifler, CA, Sun, CY, Jung, GS, Qin, Z, Buehler, MJ & Gilbert, PUPA 2019, 'The hidden structure of human enamel', Nature Communications, vol. 10, no. 1, 4383. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-12185-7
Beniash E, Stifler CA, Sun CY, Jung GS, Qin Z, Buehler MJ et al. The hidden structure of human enamel. Nature Communications. 2019 Dec 1;10(1). 4383. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-12185-7
Beniash, Elia ; Stifler, Cayla A. ; Sun, Chang Yu ; Jung, Gang Seob ; Qin, Zhao ; Buehler, Markus J. ; Gilbert, Pupa U.P.A. / The hidden structure of human enamel. In: Nature Communications. 2019 ; Vol. 10, No. 1.
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