High strength in combination with high toughness in robust and sustainable polymeric materials
Xiaojian Liao, Martin Dulle, Juliana Martins de Souza e Silva, Ralf B. Wehrspohn, Seema Agarwal, Stephan Förster, Haoqing Hou, Paul Smith, Andreas Greiner
Science, 2019, 1376-1379 DOI: 10.1126/science.aay9033
In materials science, there is an intrinsic conflict between high strength and high toughness, which can be resolved for different materials only through the use of innovative design principles. Advanced materials must be highly resistant to both deformation and fracture. We overcome this conflict in man-made polymer fibers and show multifibrillar polyacrylonitrile yarn with a toughness of 137 ± 21 joules per gram in combination with a tensile strength of 1236 ± 40 megapascals. The nearly perfect uniaxial orientation of the fibrils, annealing under tension in the presence of linking molecules, is essential for the yarn’s notable mechanical properties. This underlying principle can be used to create similar strong and tough fibers from other commodity polymers in the future and can be used in a variety of applications in areas such as biomedicine, satellite technology, textiles, aircrafts, and automobiles.