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Light-Adaptive Supramolecular Nacre-Mimetic Nanocomposites

Get the full paper here: Nano Letters 16, 5167 (2016); (Highlighted in SCIENCE; 353, 787, 2016).

Nature provides design paradigms for adaptive, self-healing, and synergistic high-performance structural materials. Nacre’s brick-and-mortar architecture is renowned for combining stiffness, toughness, strength, and lightweightness. Although elaborate approaches exist to mimic its static structure and performance, and to incorporate functionalities for the engineering world, there is a profound gap in addressing adaptable mechanical properties, particularly using remote, quick, and spatiotemporal triggers. Here, we demonstrate a generic approach to control the mechanical properties of nacre-inspired nanocomposites by designing a photothermal energy cascade using colloidal graphene as light-harvesting unit and coupling it to molecularly designed, thermoreversible, supramolecular bonds in the nanoconfined soft phase of polymer/nanoclay nacre-mimetics. The light intensity leads to adaptive steady-states balanc

ing energy uptake and dissipation. It programs the mechanical properties and switches the materials from high stiffness/strength to higher toughness within seconds under spatiotemporal control. We envisage possibilities beyond mechanical materials, for example, light-controlled (re)shaping or actuation in highly reinforced nanocomposites.

Get the full paper here: Nano Letters 16, 5167 (2016); (Highlighted in SCIENCE; 353, 787, 2016).

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