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    Mechanical strength and toughness are usually mutually exclusive, but they can both appear in natural rubber (NR). Previous studies ascribe such excellent properties to highly cis stereoregularity of NR. To our surprise, after the removal of non-rubber components (NRC) by centrifugation, the strength and toughness of NR decrease dramatically. It is still a challenge for us to make out for the problem of how NRC affect the properties of NR. Our group ascribes the superior mechanical robustness of NR to NRC. To further verify such a viewpoint, we add phospholipids (phosphatidylcholines) into NR without NRC. Phosphatidylcholines construct a sacrificial network, which ruptures preferentially upon deformation to dissipate energy. Moreover, some of phosphatidylcholines participate in the vulcanization reaction, which further improves the mechanical strength and energy dissipation. As a result, the mechanical strength and toughness of samples are as high as 21.1 MPa and 49.6 kJ/m2, respectively, which have reached the same level as that of NR. Therefore, this work not only imitates the excellent mechanical robustness of NR but also further provides a rational design for elastomers with excellent mechanical robustness.


    Yan-Chan Wei, Gui-Xiang Liu, Ling Zhang, Wen-Zhe Xu, Shuangquan Liao, Ming-Chao Luo. Mimicking the Mechanical Robustness of Natural Rubber Based on a Sacrificial Network Constructed by Phospholipids. ACS applied materials & interfaces. 2020 Mar 25;12(12):14468-14475

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    PMID: 32129596

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