Authors Cao, X.-Z. ; Merlitz, H. ; Wu, C.-X.
Title Mechanical strength management of polymer composites through tuning transient networks
Date 10.01.2020
Number 57785
Abstract The addition of transient networks to polymer composites marks a new direction toward the design of novel materials, with numerous biomedical and industrial applications. The network structure connected by transient cross-links (CLs) relaxes as time evolves, which results in the stretching release of polymer strands between transient CLs during strain. Using molecular dynamics simulations, we measure directly the stress–strain curves of double polymer networks (DPNs), containing both transient and permanent components, at different strain rates. Lifetime and density of transient CLs control the relaxation spectrum of transient networks and determine the mechanical properties of DPNs. A Rouse mode analysis reveals that at high strain rates the mechanical strength of DPNs is defined jointly by the cross-linking structures of permanent and transient networks. At low strain rates, the cross-linking structure of transient network relaxes, leaving the permanent component of the network as a sole contributor to the mechanical strength of DPNs. The transient network is shown to facilitate a dissipation of energy at higher strain rates and prevents a rupture of the network, while the permanent network preserves the structural integrity of the composite at low strain rates. This study provides computational and theoretical foundations for designing polymer composites with desirable mechanical strength and toughness by means of tuning transient networks.
Publisher Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters
Citation Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters 11 (2020) 710-715

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