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Microgel multi-layer films assembled from anionic particles and linear polycation were prepared on elastomeric substrates and their self-healing properties studied. Dried films were imaged in situ during mechanical deformation and were determined to undergo plastic deformation in response to linear strain, leading to film buckling upon strain relaxation. Hydration leads to rapid reorganization of the film building blocks, permitting recovery of the film to the undamaged state. Additionally, films were determined to heal in the presence of high relative humidity environments, suggesting that film swelling and hydration is a major factor in the restoration of film integrity, and that full immersion in solvent is not required for healing. Films prepared from microgels with lower levels of acid content and/or polycation length, factors strongly connected to the charge density and presumably the connectivity of the film, also display self-healing characteristics.


This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Polymer Chemistry, volume 4, in 2013 following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at DOI: 10.1039/C3PY00173C.


Royal Society of Chemistry

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