Static and dynamic properties of model elastomer with various cross- linking densities: A molecular dynamics study

J Liu and DP Cao and LQ Zhang, JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 131, 034903 (2009).

DOI: 10.1063/1.3179691

The effects of the cross-linking density on the static and dynamic properties of polymer networks are examined by using a molecular dynamics simulation based on a simple elastomer model. Simulation results indicate that the introduced cross-linking junctions show almost no effect on the static structure factor. The glass transition temperature T(g) increases slightly with the cross-linking density. By analyzing the mean square displacement of the monomers, the chain diffusion, and the incoherent intermediate dynamic structure factor phi(s)(q)(t) at the chain and segmental length scales, it is found that the mobilities of the monomers and chains are retarded and the relaxation behavior is hindered by the cross linking of polymers. Furthermore, the spatial localization of the monomers is also observed at a long time period for a highly cross-linked system. For the cross- linked system, the time-temperature superposition principle is valid at the segmental length scale but breaks down at the chain length scale. The effect of the cross-linking density on the terminal relaxation is investigated by the end-to-end vector correlation, which is well fitted to the Kohlrauch-William-Watts (KWW) or modified KWW functions. The characteristic relaxation time shows an approximately linear relationship with the cross-linking density. It is demonstrated that the relaxation behavior tends to broaden, attributed to the stronger intermolecular coupling or cooperativity induced by the cross linking, suggesting that the system with a higher cross-linking degree becomes more fragile. For the dynamic properties, the bond orientation and the end-to-end distance along the deformed direction, which is an indicator of the entropic change, and the nonbonded energy are examined during the deformation and relaxation processes, respectively. The results explore the molecular mechanism accounting for the residual stress in the stress relaxation of cross-linked elastomer networks.

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