Inspired by spider silk: Ultra-tough and exceptionally stretchable coating

A new work portrays an ultra-tough, exceptionally stretchable, and self-recoverable bio-based coating with self-healing capabilities and visual damage detection.

Some investigators have recently recognised the inherent superior toughness of natural macromolecules, represented by spider silk, which is essentially composed of a dense array of multiple hydrogen bonds. Image source: artellliii72 - Pixabay (symbol image).

Developing intelligent materials with integrated ultra-high-performance damage monitoring and repair functions is of paramount significance for broadening the application of the latest generation of smart materials. Now, inspired by spider silk and living skin, researchers have embedded multiple hydrogen bonding motifs and rigid alicyclic groups with attached damage monitoring sensors in bio-based polyurethanes to create bio-based elastomers with exceptional mechanical properties combined with repair and damage monitoring functionalities.

Ultra-high mechanical performance coating materials

The elastomer possesses exceptional toughness (583 MJ·m−3) and tensile strength (43 MPa), the elongation at break point is 2600 %, and self-healing (86 % at 60 °C for 6 h), environmental adaptability, and recyclability, thereby achieving the preparation of ultra-tough self-healing elastomeric materials. Simultaneously, the internally embedded sensors enable the localisation and monitoring of damage through visually observable means, such as quenching and discolouration. The elastomer recovers well in 3.5 wt% NaCl solution and provides corrosion protection (9.23 × 107 Ω·cm2 even after 50 days of immersion), achieving the integration of ultra-high mechanical performance coating materials with damage warning and repair functions.

The study has been published in Progress in Organic Coatings, Volume 182, September 2023.

Reading tip

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