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Multiphase design of autonomic self-healing thermoplastic elastomers

Nature Chemistry volume 4, pages 467472 (2012) | Download Citation

Abstract

The development of polymers that can spontaneously repair themselves after mechanical damage would significantly improve the safety, lifetime, energy efficiency and environmental impact of man-made materials. Most approaches to self-healing materials require the input of external energy, healing agents, solvent or plasticizer. Despite intense research in this area, the synthesis of a stiff material with intrinsic self-healing ability remains a key challenge. Here, we show a design of multiphase supramolecular thermoplastic elastomers that combine high modulus and toughness with spontaneous healing capability. The designed hydrogen-bonding brush polymers self-assemble into a hard–soft microphase-separated system, combining the enhanced stiffness and toughness of nanocomposites with the self-healing capability of dynamic supramolecular assemblies. In contrast to previous self-healing polymers, this new system spontaneously self-heals as a single-component solid material at ambient conditions, without the need for any external stimulus, healing agent, plasticizer or solvent.

  • Compound C10H17NO3

    5-Acetylaminopentyl acrylate

  • Compound C12H21NO3

    5-(N-Ethylacetamido)pentyl acrylate

  • Compound C13H15BrO2

    4-(2-Bromoisobutyloylmethyl)styrene

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Acknowledgements

This work was partially supported by the US Department of Energy, Division of Materials Sciences (award no. DE-FG02-04ER46162), corporate gifts and the University of California, Irvine. The authors thank Youli Li at the University of California, Santa Barbara, for assistance with using SAXS at the MRL Central Facilities at UC Santa Barbara supported by the MRSEC Program of the NSF (award no. DMR05-20415).

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Author notes

    • Yulin Chen
    •  & Aaron M. Kushner

    These two authors contributed equally to this work

Affiliations

  1. Department of Chemistry, 1102 Natural Sciences 2, University of California, Irvine, California 92697, USA

    • Yulin Chen
    • , Aaron M. Kushner
    • , Gregory A. Williams
    •  & Zhibin Guan

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Contributions

Z.G., Y.C. and A.M.K. planned the experiments, Y.C., A.M.K. and G.A.W. conducted the experiments, Z.G., Y.C. and A.M.K. analysed the data, and Z.G., A.M.K., Y.C. and G.A.W. wrote the paper.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Zhibin Guan.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nchem.1314

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