Biological high-performance composites inspire to create new tough, strong, and stiff structural materials. We show a brittle-to-ductile transition in a self-assembled nacre-inspired poly(vinyl alcohol)/nanoclay composite based on a hydration-induced glass-to-rubber transition in the 2D-nanoconfined poly(vinyl alcohol) layers. The findings open routes to design dissipative toughening mechanisms to combine stiffness and strength in nanocomposites.
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