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Structural Natural Composites

  1. Nuno M. Neves

Published Online: 20 JUL 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118097298.weoc239

Wiley Encyclopedia of Composites

Wiley Encyclopedia of Composites

How to Cite

Neves, N. M. 2012. Structural Natural Composites. Wiley Encyclopedia of Composites. 1–6.

Author Information

  1. University of Minho, Guimarães, Portugal

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 20 JUL 2012


Structural natural composites are synthesized and maintained by living organisms in mild conditions of temperature and pressure or in challenging aqueous saline environments unlike their synthetic counterparts, having remarkable properties. The study of the properties of bones, trees, or sea shells allows concluding that nature engineers materials with unusually high performance and particularly well adapted to the function in their native environments.

This article analyzes the structure and its relation with the properties in three examples of natural structural composites: wood, nacre, and bone. It is aimed with those examples to illustrate the hierarchical structure at several length scales and the high effectiveness of the materials solutions to overcome the limitations of the original properties of biologically derived materials. The detailed analysis of those structures gives valuable insights and inspiration to the development of new and high performance composites needed in many engineering applications.


  • natural composites;
  • wood;
  • bone;
  • nacre;
  • hierarchical structure