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Tough, strong and heat-enduring: Bioinspired material to replace plastics

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Modern life relies heavily on plastics, even though their petroleum-based production creates serious environmental challenges. Industry currently lacks sustainable alternatives due to their limited mechanical properties or complex manufacturing processes. An advanced strategy to design and produce high-performance sustainable structural materials is hence greatly needed.
Based on different commercially available raw materials (e.g., TiO2-mica, Fe2O3-mica), a variety of all-natural bioinspired structural materials with different colors can be fabricated. Credit: GUAN Qingfang

Just such a new bioinspired material is now available to replace petroleum-based plastics. A team led by Prof. Shu-Hong Yu from the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) reports a method to manufacture materials with similar structure as nacre from wood-derived fiber and mica, with adaption to mass production, good processability, and tunable coloration.

Natural nacre has a hierarchically ordered structure at multiscale levels, just like bricks and mortar, enabling it to be of both strength and toughness. Inspired by nacre, the researchers mimic the ordered brick-and-mortar structure using the TiO 2 coated mica microplatelet (TiO 2 -mica) and cellulose nanofiber (CNF) by the proposed directional deforming assembly method.

This method directly presses the hydrogel of…
Science X staff
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