Francois Barthelat
Professor • Materials, Mechanics of Materials, Biomedical

Office Location: ECOT 233
Lab Location: ECME 1B66C

Research Interests

Materials, bioinspiration, micro-architecture​

Nature produces materials with highly attractive sets of properties which can inspire new strategies for stronger, tougher, lighter, smarter and more sustainable engineering materials. Professor Francois Barthelat's research group (1) characterizes the structure, mechanics and multi-functionalities of natural materials and (2) designs, fabricates and tests novel high-performance engineering materials and systems inspired by nature. Their current models include mollusk shells, bone, teeth, collagen, fish scales and osteoderms. Their daily activities involve micromechanics, fracture mechanics, modeling of nonlinear and dissipative processes in materials, contact and impact mechanics, finite elements modeling, discrete element modeling, topology and geometrical optimization, laser engraving, 3D printing, experimental mechanics and also a bit of biology.

Societal Impact

We develop lighter and stronger materials that can ultimately results in large savings in transportation. We also develop new bone graft materials that are strong yet biocompatible, biodegradable and with little change of infections. One of our recent projects involved the development of protective industrial gloves inspired from fish-scales, to minimize hand injuries in work environments. Finally, our design approach duplicates nature’s: make more with less, develop high information, high performance materials based on modest but sustainable ingredients.

Select Publications

  • Z. Yin, F. Hannard and F. Barthelat “Impact resistant nacre-like transparent materials” to appear in Science (2019)
  • M. Mirkhalaf, T. Zhou, and F. Barthelat: “Higher toughness and strength with segmentation: exploring geometry in topologically interlocked ceramics” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 115 (37) (2018)
  • F. Barthelat, Z. Yin and M.J. Buehler: “Structure and mechanics of interfaces in biological materials” Nature Reviews Materials 1, 16007 (2016)
  • F. Barthelat: “Architectured materials in engineering and biology: fabrication, structure, mechanics and performance” International Materials Reviews 60(8):413-430 (2015)
  • M. Mirkhalaf, A. K. Dastjerdi and F. Barthelat: “Overcoming the brittleness of glass through bio-inspiration and micro-architecture” Nature Communications 5:3166 (2014)

Select Awards

  • Chwang-Seto Faculty Scholar, McGill University (2018). Recognizes and fosters the research of outstanding young professors.
  • Visiting Professor, Institut d’Alembert, Jussieu, France (July 2017)
  • Department of National Defence /NSERC Discovery Grant Supplement (2017-2020)
  • 2015 Acta Biomaterialia Outstanding Reviewer (Elsevier). Recognition for continuous contributions as reviewer for Acta Biomaterialia, and for an outstanding review in 2015.
  • Discovery Accelerator Supplement (2012-2015) awarded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. 
  • Top ten scientific discovery in Quebec (2014) awarded by the magazine Quebec Science.
  • Top-ten cited article in the Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids over previous five years “Toughness Amplification in Natural Composites” (2014)
  • Best Paper Award at the Society for Experimental Mechanical Annual Conference, Biological Systems and Materials Division (67 papers): “Multiscale characterization of a high-performance armor: fish scales” (2011)
  • One of seven articles selected as highlight for 2010 in the journal Bioinspiration and Biomimetics (2011)
  • Top-ten cited article in the Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids over previous five years “On the mechanics of mother-of-pearl: A key feature in the material hierarchical structure” (2011)
  • Best Paper by a Young Researcher awarded at the 12th International Conference on Fracture, out of 700+papers (2009)
  • Hetényi Award for best research paper of the year published in Experimental Mechanics (2005)