Nanointerfacial strength between non-collagenous protein and collagen fibrils in antler bone

Fei Hang, Himadri Gupta, Asa Hilton Barber

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    Antler bone displays considerable toughness through the use of a complex nanofibrous structure of mineralized collagen fibrils (MCFs) bound together by non-collagenous proteins (NCPs). While the NCP regions represent a small volume fraction relative to the MCFs, significant surface area is evolved upon failure of the nanointerfaces formed at NCP–collagen fibril boundaries. The mechanical properties of nanointerfaces between the MCFs are investi- gated directly in this work using an in situ atomic force microscopy technique to pull out individual fibrils from the NCP. Results show that the NCP – fibril interfaces in antler bone are weak, which highlights the propensity for interface failure at the nanoscale in antler bone and extensive fibril pullout observed at antler fracture surfaces. The adhesion between fibrils and NCP is additionally suggested as being rate dependent, with increasing interfacial strength and fracture energy observed when pullout velocity decreases.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number20130993
    Pages (from-to)20130993
    JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
    Issue number92
    Early online date18 Dec 2013
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


    • bone
    • toughness
    • nanomechanics


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