The new research progress of biomimetic repairable composites in our university was reported in Matter

Inspired by the natural organisms to autonomously self-repair their own structure, performance and specific functions, a series of intrinsic self-healing/healable polymeric materials based on supramolecular interactions (such as hydrogen bonds, coordination bonds, ionic bonds, etc.) have been developed. Due to the reversible association/dissociation of non-covalent bonds at molecular level, such materials can not only achieve infinite healing of mechanical damage in theory, but also their original functions, e.g., conductivity, sensing, anti-corrosion and so on. In recent years, more and more attentions have been paid to develop healable materials with high strength and modulus, because these materials are highly urgent in various high-tech fields, including intelligent building, aerospace, and automobile industry. However, virtually all known mechanically robust healable materials based on supramolecular interactions exhibit brittle fracture together with ultralow fracture toughness. This limitation causes premature or even catastrophic fracture during operation, thus leading to serious safety accidents and making healing functions meaningless.

Recently Professor Fu Jiajun from the Chemistry and Chemical Engineering school of our university, together with Professor Fu Qiang and Associate Researcher Wu Kai of Sichuan University, proposed a strategy of mimicking the microstructure of dragonfly wings to solve above problems. They successfully incorporated the 3D-interconnected MXene framework in a stiff yet brittle healable polymer matrix, leading to a biomimetic nanocomposite with significantly enhanced mechanical properties. Specifically,  compared with the initial polymer, the obtained nanocomposite show a 3.8-fold increase of stiffness 25.0-fold increase of flexural strength 7.9-fold increase of flexural strain, and 54.3-fold increase of fracture toughness. More importantly, this biomimetic material also integrate multi-functions, including fast NIR-responsive healing properties, high thermal stability and excellent EMI-shielding performance, showing potential applications in various harsh environments

These findings were published in the top journal of Matter (a sister journal of Cell) with a title of ‘Dragonfly wing-inspired Architecture Makes a stiff Yet Tough Healable Material. Nanjing University of Science and Technology is the first completion unit and communication unit, Grade 17 doctoral student Xu Jianhua and Grade 18 master's student Liu Tong from our school are the co-first authors. This research work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the National Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province, the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, the Postgraduate Research & Practice Innovation Program of Jiangsu Province and funded by the Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions.

Figure 1

Figure 1. Structural design of the SPM nanocomposite. (A) Photograph of a dragonfly specimen, and the morphological characteristics of the wings. (B) Schematic fabrication process of the SPM nanocomposite. (C) Interfacial supramolecular interactions of the SPM nanocomposite. (D) Cross-sectional optical microscopy image of the SPM nanocomposite. (E) High-resolution transmission electron microscopy image of the SPM nanocomposite. (F and G) X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy F 1s spectra (F) and N 1s spectra of SP (G), MXene nanosheets and SPM nanocomposite.


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