Bioinspired supramolecular fibers drawn from a multiphase self-assembled hydrogel [Chemistry]
Inspired by biological systems, we report a supramolecular polymer–colloidal hydrogel (SPCH) composed of 98 wt % water that
can be readily drawn into uniform (
μm thick) “supramolecular fibers” at room temperature. Functionalized polymer-grafted silica nanoparticles, a semicrystalline
hydroxyethyl cellulose derivative, and cucurbituril undergo aqueous self-assembly at multiple length scales to form the
SPCH facilitated by host–guest interactions at the molecular level and nanofibril formation at colloidal-length scale. The
fibers exhibit a unique combination of stiffness and high damping capacity (60–70%), the latter exceeding that of even biological
silks and cellulose-based viscose rayon. The remarkable damping performance of the hierarchically structured fibers is proposed
to arise from the complex combination and interactions of “hard” and “soft” phases within the SPCH and its constituents. SPCH
represents a class of hybrid supramolecular composites, opening a window into fiber technology through low-energy manufacturing.
Publisher URL: http://www.pnas.org/content/114/31/8163.short
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