Materials Science

Tunable materials switching with light

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Science  19 Aug 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6301, pp. 787-788
DOI: 10.1126/science.353.6301.787-c

Composite materials incorporate weak, stretchy, energy-absorbing materials between sheets of strong, brittle ones. Adaptive materials can locally repair or tune themselves in response to an external stimulus such as light. Zhu et al. combined these ideas into a nacre-mimetic nanocomposite built from a nanoclay, a polymer, and a small amount of reduced graphene oxide (rGO). The polymer includes thermally reversible hydrogen-bonding motifs, whose interlinking determines whether the nanocomposite is very stiff and strong or stiff and ductile. On irradiation with near-infrared light, the rGO controllable heats the polymer, making it possible to switch a single material between these states.

Scanning electron micrograph of a cross section of a nacre-mimetic nanocomposite

PHOTO: MANFRED RUCKSZIO / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

Nano Lett. 10.1021/acs. nanolett.6b02127 (2016).

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