Simulational insights into the mechanical response of prestretched double network filled elastomers

WH Wang and ZY Zhang and T Davris and J Liu and YY Gao and LQ Zhang and AV Lyulin, SOFT MATTER, 13, 8597-8608 (2017).

DOI: 10.1039/c7sm01794d

This paper deals with molecular-dynamics simulations of the mechanical properties of prestretched double network filled elastomers. To this end, we firstly validated the accuracy of this method, and affirmed that the produced stress-strain characteristics were qualitatively consistent with Lesser's experimental results on the prestretched tri-block copolymers with a competitive double network. Secondly, we investigated the effect of the crosslinking network ratio on the mechanical properties of the prestretched double network homopolymers under uniaxial tension. We found that the prestretched double network contributes greatly to the enhanced tensile stress and ultimate strength at fracture, as well as to the lower permanent set (the residual strain) and dynamic hysteresis loss, both parallel and perpendicular to the prestretching direction. Notably, though, an anisotropic behavior was observed: in the parallel direction, both the first and the second crosslinked networks bore the external force; whereas in the perpendicular direction, only the second crosslinked network was relevantly effective. Finally, the polymer nanocomposites with a prestretched double network exhibited tensile mechanical properties similar to those of the studied homopolymers with prestretched double networks. Summing up the results, it can be concluded that the incorporation of prestretched double networks with a specified crosslinking network ratio seems to be a promising method for manipulating the mechanical properties of elastomers and their nanocomposites, as well as for introducing anisotropy in their mechanical response.

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