Self-assembly of graphene oxide flakes for smart and multifunctional coating with reversible formation of wrinkling patterns†
One of the main purposes of smart and multifunctional coatings is to have the versatility to be applied in a wide range of applications. However, the functions of smart materials are often highly limited. In particular, the stimuli-responsive lateral expansion of coatings based on 2D materials has not been reported before. This manuscript describes small two-dimensional graphene oxide (GO) flakes (e.g., thin sheets with a thickness of a few nanometers and much larger lateral dimensions) that act as elementary agents for the formation of smart and multifunctional coatings. The coating can be self-assembled from the GO flakes and disassembled flexibly when required. The coating is stimuli-responsive: upon localized contact with water, it expands and forms wrinkling patterns throughout its whole surface. Evaporating the water allows the wrinkles to disappear; hence, the process is reversible. This stimuli-responsiveness can be controlled to be reduced or completely switched off by temperature or pressure. These features are fundamentally due to the reversible intermolecular interactions among the flakes and favorable packing structure of the coating. The smart coating is shown to be useful for patterned fluidic systems of the desired shapes and the development of channels between fluidic reservoirs via the shortest path. Importantly, these results showed that a simple collection of uniquely 2D elementary agents with small nanoscale thickness can self-assemble into macroscopic materials that perform interactive and multifunctional operations.