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Plenary Lecture

WEB Bioinspired Design and Manufacturing of Graphene Composites


Nacre (mother of pearl), commonly referred to as nature’s armor, has served as a blueprint for engineering stronger and tougher bioinspired materials. Nature organizes a brick-and-mortar-like architecture in nacre, with hard bricks of aragonite sandwiched with soft biopolymer layers. Graphene is a game changing material. We cloned nacre’s hierarchical architecture and reinforcing mechanisms in engineered materials by simply shear mixing, freeze drying, and sintering of metal powders and graphene sheets. Such man-made nacre-like graphene/metal composites achieved an exceptional enhancement in both strength and toughness. Additionally, we demonstrate that a small amount of graphene can minimize porosity/defects and reinforce carbon fibers. The 0.075 weight % graphene-reinforced carbon fiber exhibits 225% increase in strength and 184% enhancement in Young’s modulus. Such design strategy and model material system should guide the synthesis of bioinspired materials to achieve exceptionally high mechanical performance.

Prof. Dr. Xiaodong Li
University of Virginia