Crumpling and Unfolding of Montmorillonite Hybrid Nanocoatings as Stretchable Flame‐Retardant Skin

Abstract

Flame‐retardant coatings are widely used in a variety of personnel or product protection, and many applications would benefit from film stretchability if suitable materials are available. It is challenging to develop flame‐retardant coatings that are stretchable, eco‐friendly, and capable of being integrated on mechanically dynamic devices. Here, a concept is reported that uses pretextured montmorillonite (MMT) hybrid nanocoatings that can undergo programed unfolding to mimic the stretchability of elastomeric materials. These textured MMT coatings can be transferred onto an elastomeric substrate to achieve an MMT/elastomer bilayer device with high stretchability (225% areal strain) and effective flame retardancy. The bilayer composite is utilized as flame‐retardant skin for a soft robotic gripper, and it is demonstrated that the actuated response can manipulate and rescue irregularly shaped objects from a fire scene. Furthermore, by depositing the conformal MMT nanocoatings on nitrile gloves, the firefree gloves can endure direct flame contact without ignition. Montmorillonite–elastomer bilayer architectures with high stretchability and effective flame retardancy can be applied as flame‐retardant protective skins for soft robotic grippers and nitrile gloves. With the stretchable and flame‐retardant barriers, the soft pneumatic actuator is capable of continuous inflation/deflation within flames and can act as a compliant gripper for manipulating and rescuing irregular objects from a fire scene.

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