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Greener transformation of lignin into ultralight multifunctional materials


Shape recoverable and ultralight materials have received significant attention for multifunctional applications, which emulate the performance found in natural materials. Nature utilizes a fiber motif to achieve structural properties and simultaneously serve as a scaffold for functional gradient materials. These structural matrices have dimensions that can be mimicked through electrospinning polymeric materials into submicron to nanoscale fibrous scaffolds. This study explains how extremely brittle biopolymer materials composed of 99 wt.% softwood kraft lignin were transformed into three-dimensional (3D) flexible fibrous materials without using any external chemical cross-linking agents. The work reports a new design concept to form advanced lignin-based materials by exploiting the inherent thermal instability of technical lignin, heat treated in order to create a purely elastic material. In situ rheological tests indicated lignin fibers undergo simultaneous softening starting at 175 °C and cross-linking above 225 °C that allows the formation of a connected 3-D network. The resulting ultralight materials were composed of short sub-micron fibers that showed significant elastic resilience with shape recovery after deformation. Further samples were carbonized with minimal shrinkage to create carbon based fibrous materials. These materials show multi-functionality for both thermally stabilized and carbonized samples including flexibility and shape recovery across a 350 °C temperature range, significant oil/solvent absorption from water, fire resistance, formation of slippery surfaces, and electrical conductivity as a function of deformation.

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Publication details

The article was received on 11 Aug 2018, accepted on 25 Sep 2018 and first published on 26 Sep 2018

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C8TA07802E
Citation: J. Mater. Chem. A, 2018, Accepted Manuscript
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    Greener transformation of lignin into ultralight multifunctional materials

    M. Cho, M. A. Karaaslan, H. Wang and S. Renneckar, J. Mater. Chem. A, 2018, Accepted Manuscript , DOI: 10.1039/C8TA07802E

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