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Lamellar Bilayers As Reversible Sacrificial Bonds To Toughen Hydrogel: Hysteresis, Self-Recovery, Fatigue Resistance, And Crack Blunting

M. A. Haque, Takayuki Kurokawa, G. Kamita, J. Gong
Published 2011 · Chemistry

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We report the extraordinary toughness, hysteresis, self-recovery, and persistent fatigue resistance of an anisotropic hydrogel with single-domain lamellar structure, consisting of periodical stacking of several thousands of rigid, hydrophobic bilayers in the ductile, hydrophilic polymer matrix. The stratified lamellar bilayers not only diffract light to exhibit magnificent structural color but also serve as reversible sacrificial bonds that dissociate upon deformation, exhibiting large hysteresis as an energy dissipation mechanism. Both the molecular dissociation and lipid-like mobile nature of bilayers dramatically enhance the resistance to crack propagation by suppressing the stress concentration at the crack tip with the formation of extraordinary crack blunting. This unique toughening phenomenon could allow deep insight into the toughening mechanism of the hydrogel-like soft materials such as biological soft tissues.
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