Molecular Dynamics Simulations of Polymer Welding: Strength from Interfacial Entanglements

T Ge and F Pierce and D Perahia and GS Grest and MO Robbins, PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS, 110, 098301 (2013).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.110.098301

Large-scale simulations of thermal welding of polymers are performed to investigate the rise of mechanical strength at the polymer-polymer interface with the welding time t(w). The welding process is at the core of integrating polymeric elements into devices as well as in the thermal induced healing of polymers, processes that require the development of interfacial strength equal to that of the bulk. Our simulations show that the interfacial strength saturates at the bulk shear strength long before polymers diffuse by their radius of gyration. Along with the strength increase, the dominant failure mode changes from chain pullout at the interface to chain scission as in the bulk. The formation of sufficient entanglements across the interface, which we track using a primitive path analysis, is required to arrest catastrophic chain pullout at the interface. The bulk response is not fully recovered until the density of entanglements at the interface reaches the bulk value. Moreover, the increase of interfacial strength before saturation is proportional to the number of interfacial entanglements between chains from opposite sides. DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.110.098301

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