A novel wet-spinning method of manufacturing continuous bio-inspired composites based on graphene oxide and sodium alginate
Nacre is a lightweight, strong, stiff, and tough material, which makes it a mimicking object for material design. Many attempts to mimic nacre by various methods resulted in the synthesis of artificial nacre with excellent properties. However, the fabrication procedure was very laborious and time-consuming due to the sequential steps, and only limited-sized materials could be obtained. Hence, a novel design enabling scalable production of high-performance artificial nacre with uniform layered structures is urgently needed. We developed a novel wet-spinning assembly technique to rapidly manufacture continuous nacremimic graphene oxide (GO, brick)-sodium alginate (SA, mortar) films and fibers with excellent mechanical properties. At high concentrations, the GO-SA mixtures spontaneously produced liquid crystals (LCs) due to the template effect of GO, and continuous, 6 m long nacre-like GO-SA films were wet-spun from the obtained GO-SA liquid crystalline (LC) dope with a speed of up to 1.5 m/min. The assembled macroscopic GO-SA composites inherited the alignment of the GO sheets from the LC phase, and their mechanical properties were investigated by a joint experimental-computational study. The tensile tests revealed that the maximum strength (σ) and Young’s modulus (E) of the obtained films reached 239.6 MPa and 22.4 GPa, while the maximum values of σ and E for the fibers were 784.9 MPa and 58 GPa, respectively. The described wet-spinning assembly method is applicable for a large-scale and fast production of high-performance continuous artificial nacre.