3 years ago

Three-Dimensional-Moldable Nanofiber-Reinforced Transparent Composites with a Hierarchically Self-Assembled “Reverse” Nacre-like Architecture

Three-Dimensional-Moldable Nanofiber-Reinforced Transparent Composites with a Hierarchically Self-Assembled “Reverse” Nacre-like Architecture
Hiroyuki Yano, Hironari Sano, Subir K. Biswas, Md. Iftekhar Shams
Achieving a structural hierarchy and a uniform nanofiller dispersion simultaneously remains highly challenging for obtaining a robust polymer nanocomposite of immiscible components. In this study, a remarkably facile Pickering emulsification approach is developed to fabricate hierarchical composites of immiscible acrylic polymer and native cellulose nanofibers by taking advantage of the dual role of the nanofibers as both emulsion stabilizer and polymer reinforcement. The composites feature a unique “reverse” nacre-like microstructure reinforced with a well-dispersed two-tier hierarchical nanofiber network, leading to a synergistic high strength, modulus, and toughness (20, 50, and 53 times that of neat polymer, respectively), high optical transparency (89%), high flexibility, and a drastically low thermal expansion (13 ppm K–1, 1/15th of the neat polymer). The nanocomposites have a three-dimensional-shape moldability, also their surface can be patterned with micro/nanoscale features with high fidelity by in situ compression molding, making them attractive as the substrate for flexible displays, smart contact lens devices, and photovoltaics. The Pickering emulsification approach should be broadly applicable for the fabrication of novel functional materials of various immiscible components.

Publisher URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsami.7b09390

DOI: 10.1021/acsami.7b09390

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