Materials Science

Recyclable nacre-like composites

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Science  26 Mar 2021:
Vol. 371, Issue 6536, pp. 1329
DOI: 10.1126/science.371.6536.1329-a

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

CREDIT: LOSSADA ET AL., ACS NANO 10.1021/ACSNANO.0C10001 (2021)

The brick-and-mortar structure of nacre combines stiffness and exceptional toughness far in excess of the properties of the constituent materials and has thus been used as an inspiration for making tough composites. Lossada et al. combined nanoclay (the bricks) with a methacrylate-methacrylamide vitrimer polymer and some catalyst (the mortar) in aqueous solution. Vitrimers contain chemical cross-links, but the structure can be modified at elevated temperatures through bond-shuffling mechanisms. Thus, the properties of the nanocomposite can be tuned and the material can even be recycled by grinding and hot-pressing. The addition of a small amount of reduced graphene oxide enabled localized heating of the nanocomposites using laser irradiation.

ACS Nano 10.1021/acsnano.0c10001 (2021).

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