In situ micropillar compression reveals superior strength and ductility but an absence of damage in lamellar bone

Schwiedrzik, Johann Jakob; Raghavan, Rejin; Bürki, Alexander; LeNader, Victor; Wolfram, Uwe; Michler, Johann; Zysset, Philippe (2014). In situ micropillar compression reveals superior strength and ductility but an absence of damage in lamellar bone. Nature Materials, 13(7), pp. 740-747. Nature Publishing Group 10.1038/nmat3959

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Ageing societies suffer from an increasing incidence of bone fractures. Bone strength depends on the amount of mineral measured by clinical densitometry, but also on the micromechanical properties of the hierarchical organization of bone. Here, we investigate the mechanical response under monotonic and cyclic compression of both single osteonal lamellae and macroscopic samples containing numerous osteons. Micropillar compression tests in a scanning electron microscope, microindentation and macroscopic compression tests were performed on dry ovine bone to identify the elastic modulus, yield stress, plastic deformation, damage accumulation and failure mechanisms. We found that isolated lamellae exhibit a plastic behaviour, with higher yield stress and ductility but no damage. In agreement with a proposed rheological model, these experiments illustrate a transition from a ductile mechanical behaviour of bone at the microscale to a quasi-brittle response driven by the growth of cracks along interfaces or in the vicinity of pores at the macroscale.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute for Surgical Technology & Biomechanics ISTB [discontinued]

Graduate School:

Graduate School for Cellular and Biomedical Sciences (GCB)

UniBE Contributor:

Schwiedrzik, Johann Jakob, Bürki, Alexander, Wolfram, Uwe, Zysset, Philippe


500 Science > 530 Physics
500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
600 Technology > 620 Engineering




Nature Publishing Group




Johann Jakob Schwiedrzik

Date Deposited:

10 Oct 2014 16:40

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:35

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:



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