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Ultralight Programmable Bioinspired Aerogels with an Integrated Multifunctional Surface for Self-Cleaning, Oil Absorption, and Thermal Insulation via Coassembly

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posted on 24.02.2020 by Chenyang Cai, Zechang Wei, Yangze Huang, Chenfeng Ding, Pei Wang, Jianyue Song, Leixin Deng, Yu Fu, W. H. Zhong
Creating a configurable and controllable surface for structure-integrated multifunctionality of ultralight aerogels is of significance but remains a huge challenge because of the critical limitations of mechanical vulnerability and structural processability. Herein, inspired by Salvinia minima, the facile and one-step coassembly approach is developed to allow the structured aerogels to spontaneously replicate Salvinia-like textures for function-adaptable surfaces morphologically. The in situ superimposed construction of bioinspired topography and intrinsic topology is for the first time performed for programmable binary architectures with multifunctionality without engendering structural vulnerability and functional disruption. By introducing the binding groups for hydrophobicity tailoring, functionalized nanocellulose (f-NC) is prepared via mechanochemistry as a structural, functional, and topographical modifier for a multitasking role. The self-generated bioinspired surface with f-NC greatly maintains the structural unity and mechanical robustness, which enable self-adaptability and self-supporting of surface configurations. With fine-tuning of nucleation-driving, the binary microstructures can be controllably diversified for structure-adaptable multifunctionalities. The resulting ultralight S. minima-inspired aerogels (e.g., 0.054 g cm–3) presented outstanding temperature-endured elasticity (e.g., 90.7% high-temperature compress-recovery after multiple cycles), durable superhydrophobicity, anti-icing properties, oil absorbency efficiency (e.g., 60.2 g g–1), and thermal insulating (e.g., 0.075 W mK–1), which are superior to these reported on the overall performance. This coassembly strategy offers the opportunities for the design of ultralight materials with topography- and function-tailorable features to meet the increasing demands in many fields such as smart surfaces and self-cleaning coatings.