Mechanics of elastomeric molecular composites

Pierre Millereau, Etienne Ducrot, Jess M. Clough, Meredith E. Wiseman, Hugh R. Brown, Rint P. Sijbesma, Costantino Creton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A classic paradigm of soft and extensible polymer materials is the difficulty of combining reversible elasticity with high fracture toughness, in particular for moduli above 1 MPa. Our recent discovery of multiple network acrylic elastomers opened a pathway to obtain precisely such a combination. We show here that they can be seen as true molecular composites with a well–cross-linked network acting as a percolating filler embedded in an extensible matrix, so that the stress–strain curves of a family of molecular composite materials made with different volume fractions of the same cross-linked network can be renormalized into a master curve. For low volume fractions (<3%) of cross-linked network, we demonstrate with mechanoluminescence experiments that the elastomer undergoes a strong localized softening due to scission of covalent bonds followed by a stable necking process, a phenomenon never observed before in elastomers. The quantification of the emitted luminescence shows that the damage in the material occurs in two steps, with a first step where random bond breakage occurs in the material accompanied by a moderate level of dissipated energy and a second step where a moderate level of more localized bond scission leads to a much larger level of dissipated energy. This combined use of mechanical macroscopic testing and molecular bond scission data provides unprecedented insight on how tough soft materials can damage and fail.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9110-9115
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS)
Volume115
Issue number37
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Sep 2018

Keywords

  • Composite
  • Elastomer
  • Mechanical properties
  • Network
  • Polymer

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