Fracture mechanism of amorphous polymers at strain fields

L Huang and XP Yang and XL Jia and DP Cao, PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 16, 24892-24898 (2014).

DOI: 10.1039/c4cp03120b

Owing to the wide application of polymeric materials, understanding the fracture mechanism of amorphous polymers at strain fields is a fundamentally important challenge. In this work, we use molecular dynamics simulations to investigate the uniaxial deformation of amorphous polyethylene and further monitor the polyethylene fracture process induced by stretching. Results indicate that the polyethylene systems with chain lengths of 600-800 united atoms exhibit the fracture behavior at a temperature T < 200 K and the strain of 1.0. Further study shows that in the stretching process, the disentanglement and orientation of chains lead to the formation of small cavities in the middle region of the system, and the small cavities subsequently form a large hole, causing the fracture of the whole system. Definitely, the fracture is determined by the two factors of mobility and entanglement of chains. The polyethylene systems with a high chain mobility or a high chain entanglement do not fracture. Finally, a schematic diagram is put forward to illustrate the fracture behavior.

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