Francois Barthelat


Associate Professor
Ph.D. Northwestern University
M.Sc. University of Rochester
B.Sc. École Nationale Supérieure d'électricité et de Mécanique (France)

Macdonald Engineering Building, Rm 367 Map
External Website
francois.barthelat [at] (Email)

PhD student positions available for winter 2016.

Research Interests

Primary Research Theme: Bioengineering
Secondary Research Theme: Materials and Structures
Research Group/Lab : Biomimetic Materials Laboratory

KEYWORDS: • Mechanics of Biological Materials • Biomimetics • Fracture Mechanics • Composites • Experimental Mechanics • Small-scale Mechanical Testing •Multiscale Modeling

Nature produces extremely efficient natural, which are increasingly becoming a source of inspiration for engineers. In materials science, biomimetics (the science of imitating nature) is now starting to inspire novel materials with extraordinary mechanical properties.

My research focuses on the mechanical performance of hard biological materials (seashells, teeth), and on the development of novel "bio-inspired" composites. Hard biological materials are 10 to 10,000 times tougher than the fragile ceramics of which they are made. These levels of improvement are currently not matched by man-made materials, but nature demonstrates that they are possible.

Seashells and teeth are two very good examples of hard and tough natural materials. In order to determine which key microstructural features and mechanisms control their performance, we use small scale and in-situ experiments, and multiscale modeling. The focus is currently on toughening mechanisms, which are the mechanisms operating together to slow down or even stop the propagation of cracks within the material.

Using what we are learning from nature, we are developing novel bio-inspired composite materials: large scale model materials to demonstrate key concepts, high performance composites, and ceramic coatings with enhanced adhesion

Current Research Projects

  • Super ceramics at the seashore: mollusc shells
  • Biomimetic study of a tough, ultra-light flexible armour: fish scales
  • Diagnosing bone with advanced mechanical tests
  • Self-assembled bio-inspired composites
  • Bio-inspired morphing materials for aerospace applications

Most Significant Publications

  • "Nacre from mollusk shells: a model for high-performance structural materials" F. Barthelat. Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, Special issue on the biomimetics of aquatic life: applications for engineering (invited paper) 5(3) p. 1-8 (2010) PDF
  • "On the Mechanics of FishScale Structures" F. Vernerey and F. Barthelat. International Journal of Solids and Structures 47(17): p. 2268-2275 (2010) PDF
  • "Failure mode transition in nacre and bone-like materials" R. Rabiei, S. Bekah and F. Barthelat. to appear in Acta Biomaterialia (2010) PDF
  • "A Novel Subset Splitting Procedure for Digital Image Correlation on Discontinuous Displacement Fields" J. Poissant and F. Barthelat. Experimental Mechanics 50 (3): p. 353-364 (2010) PDF
  • More publications
  • Biometic Materials Laboratory publications


MECH 210 Mechanics 1 2 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

MECH 547 Mechanics of Biological Matls 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

MECH 632 Adv Mechanics of Materials 4 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

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