Plastic deformation of glassy polymethylene : computer-aided molecular-dynamic simulation

N.K. Balabaev, M.A. Mazo, A.V. Lyulin, E.F. Oleinik

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Abstract

Molecular-dynamic simulation of low-temperature plastic deformation (T def = 50 K, T def/T g = 0.3) is studied for glassy polymethylene under the regime of active uniaxial compression and tension for a cell composed of 64 chains containing 100 -CH2 groups in each (as united atoms) and with periodic boundary conditions. Thirty-two such cells are created, and, in each cell, polymethylene chains in the statistical coil conformation are independently constructed. The cells are subjected to isothermal uniaxial compression at T def = 50 K by ¿ = 30% and by ¿ = 70% under uniaxial tension. In the course of loading, a s-¿ diagram is recorded, while the mechanical work spent on deformation, the changes in the overall potential energy of the system, and the contributions from various potential interactions (noncovalent van der Waals bonds, chemical links, valence and torsional angles) are estimated. The results are averaged over all 32 cells. The relaxation of stored potential energy and residual strain after complete unloading of the deformed sample is studied. The relaxation of stored energy and residual strain is shown to be incomplete. Most of this energy and strain is stored in the sample at the deformation temperature for long period. The conformational composition of chains and the average density of polymer glass during loading are analyzed. Simulation results show that inelastic deformations commence not with the conformational unfolding of coils but with the nucleation of strain-bearing defects of a nonconformational nature. The main contribution to the energy of these defects is provided by van der Waals interactions. Strain-bearing defects are nucleated in a polymer glass during tension and compression primarily as short-scale positive volume fluctuations in the sample. During tension, the average density of the glass decreases; during compression, this parameter slightly increases to ¿ ˜ 8% and then decreases. An initial increase in the density indicates that, during compression and at ¿ <8%, coils undergo compactization via an increase in chain packing. During compression, the concentration of trans conformers remains unchanged below ¿ ˜ 8% and then decreases. During compression, it means that in a glass, coils do not increase their sizes at strains below ¿ ˜ 8%. During tensile drawing, coils remain unfolded below ¿ ˜ 35%; at higher strains, coils become enriched with trans conformers or unfold. At this stage, the concentration of trans conformers linearly increases. The development of a strain-induced excess volume (strain-bearing defects) entails an increase in the potential energy of the sample. Under the given conditions of deformation, nucleation of strain-bearing defects and an increase in their concentration are found to be the only processes occurring at the initial stage of loading of glassy polymethylene. The results of computer-aided simulation are compared with the experimental data reported in the literature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)633-644
JournalPolymer Science. Series A
Volume52
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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