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Mussel-inspired healing of strong and stiff polymer


Self-healability will greatly improve the reliability, service life and maintenance of synthetic materials. However, it remains a big challenge to realize self-healing of a strong and stiff polymer due to its poor molecular mobility. Inspired by hardness and self-healability of the cuticle of mussel byssal threads, here we demonstrate that a stiff and strong polymer can heal itself through dynamic metal-ligand interaction. The polymer is comprised of nitrocatechol-substituted chitosan cross-linked by catechol-Fe complexation, which exhibits a tensile strength (63.6 ± 2.2 MPa) and an elastic modulus (862.6 ± 31 MPa) comparable to or even better than those of common engineering plastics. Once suffering from multiple physical damages, the stiff polymer is able to recover its configuration integrity and mechanical properties autonomously via pH-induced coordination between Fe3+ and catecholic moiety. Moreover, the polymer also exhibited interesting renewability, fire-retardant and solvent-tolerance. Application of the polymer is demonstrated by a weight-bearing test. Our investigation offers a bio-inspired strategy to design self-healable rigid polymers that have potential applications in various technologic fields.

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Publication details

The article was received on 24 Jan 2018, accepted on 09 Mar 2018 and first published on 09 Mar 2018

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C8TA00760H
Citation: J. Mater. Chem. A, 2018, Accepted Manuscript
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    Mussel-inspired healing of strong and stiff polymer

    N. chen, L. Qin and Q. Pan, J. Mater. Chem. A, 2018, Accepted Manuscript , DOI: 10.1039/C8TA00760H

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