Due to hierarchical organization of micro- and nanostructures, natural nacre exhibits extraordinary strength and toughness, and thus provides a superior model for the design and fabrication of high-performance artificial composite materials. Although great progress has been made in constructing layered composites by alternately stacking hard inorganic platelets and soft polymers, the real issue is that the excellent strength of these composites was obtained at the sacrifice of toughness. In this work, inspired by the layered aragonite microplatelets/chitin nanofibers-protein structure of natural nacre, alumina microplatelets-graphene oxide nanosheets-poly(vinyl alcohol) (Al2O3/GO-PVA) artificial nacre is successfully constructed through layer-by-layer bottom-up assembly, in which Al2O3 and GO-PVA act as bricks and mortar , respectively. The artificial nacre has hierarchical brick-and-mortar structure and exhibits excellent strength (143 ? 13 MPa) and toughness (9.2 ? 2.7 MJ/m3), which are superior to those of natural nacre (80-135 MPa, 1.8 MJ/m3). It was demonstrated that the multiscale hierarchical structure of ultrathin GO nanosheets and submicrometer-thick Al2O3 platelets can deal with the conflict between strength and toughness, thus leading to the excellent mechanical properties that cannot be obtained using only one size of platelet. We strongly believe that the work presented here provides a creative strategy for designing and developing new composites with excellent strength and toughness.
Wang, J., Qiao, J., Wang, J., Zhu, Y., & Jiang, L. (2015). Bioinspired hierarchical alumina-graphene oxide-poly(vinyl alcohol) artificial nacre with optimized strength and toughness. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 7(17), 9281-9286. https://doi.org/10.1021/acsami.5b02194