Elastic and thermal expansion asymmetry in dense molecular materials

JA Burg and RH Dauskardt, NATURE MATERIALS, 15, 974-980 (2016).

DOI: 10.1038/NMAT4674

The elastic modulus and coefficient of thermal expansion are fundamental properties of elastically stiff molecular materials and are assumed to be the same (symmetric) under both tension and compression loading. We show that molecular materials can have a marked asymmetric elastic modulus and coefficient of thermal expansion that are inherently related to terminal chemical groups that limit molecular network connectivity. In compression, terminal groups sterically interact to stiffen the network, whereas in tension they interact less and disconnect the network. The existence of asymmetric elastic and thermal expansion behaviour has fundamental implications for computational approaches to molecular materials modelling and practical implications on the thermomechanical strains and associated elastic stresses. We develop a design space to control the degree of elastic asymmetry in molecular materials, a vital step towards understanding their integration into device technologies.

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