Atomistic Simulation of the Structure and Mechanics of a Semicrystalline Polyether

N Lempesis and PJ in 't Veld and GC Rutledge, MACROMOLECULES, 49, 5714-5726 (2016).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.macromol.6b00555

We report the use of atomistic simulation to study semicrystalline poly(tetramethylene oxide) (PTMO), which is one of the major components of thermoplastic polyurethanes. This work reports the first application of an Interphase Monte Carlo model previously developed for polyethylene to a more complex chemistry involving heteroatoms, about which much less is known experimentally. The interface between the crystalline and amorphous domains of PTMO has been modeled in detail, complete with the equilibrium distributions of tails, loops and bridges. In doing so, a criterion has been established for selecting the relevant interface between domains, and a methodology developed that identifies the energetically most favorable interface in a heterogeneous material. A representative sample of configurations was then simulated by molecular dynamics, and analysis of deformation to small strains at different strain rates is described. Estimation of the full stiffness matrix of semicrystalline PTMO is reported for the first time.

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