Nature-inspired thermo-responsive multifunctional membrane adaptively hybridized with PNIPAm and PPy
Specialized plant tissues, such as the epidermis of a leaf covered with stomata, consist of soft materials with deformability and electrochemical properties to achieve specific functions in response to various environmental stimuli. Stimulus-responsive hydrogels with electrochemical properties are good candidates for imitating such special functionalities in nature and thus have great potential in a wide range of academic and industrial applications. However, hydrogel-incorporated conductive materials are usually mechanically rigid, which limits their application in other fields. In addition, the fabrication technology of structured functional hydrogels has low reproducibility due to the required multistep processing. Here, inspired by nature, specifically the stimulus-responsive functionalities of plants, a new thermo-responsive multifunctional hybrid membrane (HM) is synthesized through the in situ hybridization of conductive poly(pyrrole) (PPy) on a photopolymerized poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAm) matrix. The morphological and electrical properties of the fabricated HM are investigated to characterize various aspects of its multiple functions. In terms of morphology, the HM can be easily fabricated into various structures by smartly utilizing photopolymerization patterning, and it exhibits thermo-responsive deformability. In terms of functionality, it exhibits various electrical and charge responses to thermal stimuli. This simple and efficient fabrication method can be used as a promising platform for fabricating a variety of functional devices.
Publisher URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/am.2017.168