Lightweight, tough, and sustainable cellulose nanofiber-derived bulk structural materials with low thermal expansion coefficient

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Science Advances  01 May 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 18, eaaz1114
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz1114


Sustainable structural materials with light weight, great thermal dimensional stability, and superb mechanical properties are vitally important for engineering application, but the intrinsic conflict among some material properties (e.g., strength and toughness) makes it challenging to realize these performance indexes at the same time under wide service conditions. Here, we report a robust and feasible strategy to process cellulose nanofiber (CNF) into a high-performance sustainable bulk structural material with low density, excellent strength and toughness, and great thermal dimensional stability. The obtained cellulose nanofiber plate (CNFP) has high specific strength [~198 MPa/(Mg m−3)], high specific impact toughness [~67 kJ m−2/(Mg m−3)], and low thermal expansion coefficient (<5 × 10−6 K−1), which shows distinct and superior properties to typical polymers, metals, and ceramics, making it a low-cost, high-performance, and environmental-friendly alternative for engineering requirement, especially for aerospace applications.

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