Insights on synergy of materials and structures in biomimetic platelet-matrix composites
Hybrid materials such as biomimetic platelet-matrix composites are in high demand to confer low weight and multifunctional mechanical properties. This letter reports interfacial-bond regulated assembly of polymers on cement-an archetype model with significant infrastructure applications. We demonstrate a series of 20+ molecular dynamics studies on decoding and optimizing the complex interfacial interactions including the role and types of various heterogeneous, competing interfacial bonds that are key to adhesion and interfacial strength. Our results show an existence of an optimum overlap length scale (∼15 nm) between polymers and cement crystals, exhibiting the best balance of strength, toughness, stiffness, and ductility for the composite. This finding, combined with the fundamental insights into the nature of interfacial bonds, provides key hypotheses for selection and processing of constituents to deliberate the best synergy in the structure and materials of platelet-matrix composites.