Toughness Governs the Rupture of the Interfacial H-Bond Assemblies at a Critical Length Scale in Hybrid Materials

N Sakhavand and P Muthuramalingam and R Shahsavari, LANGMUIR, 29, 8154-8163 (2013).

DOI: 10.1021/la4014015

The geometry and material property mismatch across the interface of hybrid materials with dissimilar building blocks make it extremely difficult to fully understand the lateral chemical bonding processes and design nanocomposites with optimal performance. Here, we report a combined first-principles study, molecular dynamics modeling, and theoretical derivations to unravel the detailed mechanisms of H-bonding, deformation, load transfer, and failure at the interface of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) and silicates, as an example of hybrid materials with geometry and property mismatch across the interface. We identify contributing H-bonds that are key to adhesion and demonstrate a specific periodic pattern of interfacial H-bond network dictated by the interface mismatch and intramolecular H-bonding. We find that the maximum toughness, incorporating both intra- and interlayer strain energy contributions, govern the existence of optimum overlap length and thus the rupture of interfacial (interlayer) H-bond assemblies in natural and synthetic hybrid materials. This universally valid result is in contrast to the previous reports that correlate shear strength with rupture of H-bonds assemblies at a finite overlap length. Overall, this work establishes a unified understanding to explain the interplay between geometric constraints, interfacial H-bonding, materials characteristics, and optimal mechanical properties in hybrid organic inorganic materials.

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