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Self-Healing Natural Rubber with Tailorable Mechanical Properties Based on Ionic Supramolecular Hybrid Network

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journal contribution
posted on 07.08.2017, 00:00 authored by Chuanhui Xu, Liming Cao, Xunhui Huang, Yukun Chen, Baofeng Lin, Lihua Fu
In most cases, the strength of self-healing supramolecular rubber based on noncovalent bonds is in the order of KPa, which is a challenge for their further applications. Incorporation of conventional fillers can effectively enhance the strength of rubbers, but usually accompanied by a sacrifice of self-healing capability due to that the filler system is independent of the reversible supramolecular network. In the present work, in situ reaction of methacrylic acid (MAA) and excess zinc oxide (ZnO) was realized in natural rubber (NR). Ionic cross-links in NR matrix were obtained by limiting the covalent cross-linking of NR molecules and allowing the in situ polymerization of MAA/ZnO. Because of the natural affinity between Zn2+ ion-rich domains and ZnO, the residual nano ZnO participated in formation of a reversible ionic supramolecular hybrid network, thus having little obstructions on the reconstruction of ionic cross-links. Meanwhile, the well dispersed residual ZnO could tailor the mechanical properties of NR by changing the MAA/ZnO molar ratios. The present study thus provides a simple method to fabricate a new self-healing NR with tailorable mechanical properties that may have more potential applications.