Advanced Functional Materials, 2019, vol 29, 4, pp. 1806912
The preparation of biodegradable polymeric materials with both great strength and toughness remains a huge challenge. The natural spider silk exhibits a combined super high tensile strength and high fracture toughness (150–190 J g−1), attributing to the hierarchically assembled nanophase separation and the densely organized sacrificial hydrogen bonds confined in the nanoscale granules. Herein, inspired by natural spider silk, a facile strategy is reported for the preparation of nanostructured biomimetic polymeric material by incorporating biomass-derived lignosulfonic acid (LA) as interspersed nanoparticles into a biodegradable poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) matrix. The fabricated PVA/LA nanocomposite film exhibits the world’s highest toughness of 172 (±5) J g−1 among the PVA materials, as well as a powerful tensile strength of 98.2 MPa and a large breaking strain of 282%. The outstanding performance is attributed to the strain-induced scattering of LA nanoparticles in the PVA matrix and the strong intermolecular sacrificial hydrogen bonds confined in the interphase. Moreover, after introducing the easily available green biomass LA, the prepared biomimetic polymer films show excellent ultraviolet-blocking performance and good thermal stability. As both PVA and LA are biodegradable, this work presents an innovative design strategy for fully biodegradable robust polymeric materials with integrated strength and toughness.