Relating crack-tip deformation to mineralization and fracture resistance in human femur cortical bone

Kwai S. Chan, Candace K. Chan, Daniel P. Nicolella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Scopus citations


The risk of bone fracture increases with age because of a variety of factors that include, among others, decreasing bone quantity and quality. Despite recent advances, the roles of bone microstructure and trace mineralization in the fracture process are not well understood. In this study, we utilize a combination of in-situ fracture toughness testing, digital strain mapping, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy techniques to characterize the near-tip strain field, fracture toughness, and chemical elements on the fracture surface of bone specimens from donors of two ages (48-year-old and 78-year-old females). We show that age-related embrittlement of bone fracture is associated with higher near-tip strains by lamellar shear and crack deflection at lamellar interfaces in the young bone and their absence in the old bone. The different near-tip deformation behaviors may be associated with the presence of Si and Zn in the young bone but more Ca and P and the lack of Si and Zn in the old bone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)427-434
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2009
Externally publishedYes



  • Bone quality
  • Cortical bone
  • Crack deflection
  • Fracture toughness
  • Mineralization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Histology

Cite this