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Muscle-Mimetic Synergistic Covalent and Supramolecular Polymers: Phototriggered Formation Leads to Mechanical Performance Boost

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journal contribution
posted on 30.11.2020, 13:35 by Zhaoming Zhang, Lin Cheng, Jun Zhao, Hao Zhang, Xinyang Zhao, Yuhang Liu, Ruixue Bai, Hui Pan, Wei Yu, Xuzhou Yan
A thin filament stimulated by Ca2+ to combine with myosin is the structural basis to achieve filament sliding and muscle contraction. Though a large variety of artificial materials has been developed by mimicking muscle, the on-demand combination of the actin filament and myosin has never been precisely reproduced in polymeric systems. Herein, we show that both the combination process and the combined structure of actin filament and myosin have been mimicked to construct synergistic covalent and supramolecular polymers (CSPs). Specifically, photoirradiation as a stimulus induces the independently formed covalent polymers (CPs) and supramolecular polymers (SPs) to interact with each other through activated quadruple H-bonding. The resultant CSPs possess a unique network structure which not only facilitates the synergistic effect of CPs and SPs to afford stiff, strong, yet tough materials but also provides efficient pathways to dissipate energy with the damping capacity of the representative material being higher than 95%. Furthermore, muscle functions, for example, by becoming stiff during contraction and self-growth by training, are imitated well in our system via in situ phototriggered formation of CSP in the solid state. We hope that the fundamental understanding gained from this work will promote the development of synergistic CSP systems with emergent functions and applications by mimicking the principle of muscle movements.