A new, healable, supramolecular nanocomposite material has been developed and evaluated. The material comprises a blend of three components: a pyrene-functionalized polyamide, a polydiimide and pyrene-functionalized gold nanoparticles (P-AuNPs). The polymeric components interact by forming well-defined π–π stacked complexes between π-electron rich pyrenyl residues and π-electron deficient polydiimide residues. Solution studies in the mixed solvent chloroform–hexafluoroisopropanol (6 : 1, v/v) show that mixing the three components (each of which is soluble in isolation), results in the precipitation of a supramolecular, polymer nanocomposite network. The precipitate thus formed can be re-dissolved on heating, with the thermoreversible dissolution/precipitation procedure repeatable over at least 5 cycles. Robust, self-supporting composite films containing up to 15 wt% P-AuNPs could be cast from 2,2,2-trichloroethanol. Addition of as little as 1.25 wt% P-AuNPs resulted in significantly enhanced mechanical properties compared to the supramolecular blend without nanoparticles. The nanocomposites showed a linear increase in both tensile moduli and ultimate tensile strength with increasing P-AuNP content. All compositions up to 10 wt% P-AuNPs exhibited essentially quantitative healing efficiencies. Control experiments on an analogous nanocomposite material containing dodecylamine-functionalized AuNPs (5 wt%) exhibited a tensile modulus approximately half that of the corresponding nanocomposite that incorporated 5 wt% pyrene functionalized-AuNPs, clearly demonstrating the importance of the designed interactions between the gold filler and the supramolecular polymer matrix.
This article is Open Access
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