Mechanical response of 2D polymer networks: role of topology, rate dependence and damage accumulation

[+] Author and Article Information
Konik Kothari

Mechanical Science and Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

yuhang hu

Mechanical Science and Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Sahil Gupta

Computer Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Ahmed Elbanna

Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

1Corresponding author.

ASME doi:10.1115/1.4038883 History: Received October 18, 2017; Revised December 21, 2017


The skeleton of many natural and artificial soft materials can be abstracted as networks of fibers/ polymers interacting in a non-linear fashion. Here, we present a numerical model for networks of nonlinear, elastic polymer chains with rate-dependent crosslinkers similar to what is found in gels. The model combines the worm-like chain at the polymer level with the transition state theory for crosslinker bond dynamics. We study the damage evolution and the force-displacement response of these networks under uniaxial stretching for different loading rates, network topology, and crosslinking density. Our results suggest a complex non-monotonic response as the loading rate or the crosslinking density increases. We discuss this in terms of the microscopic deformation mechanisms and suggest a novel framework for increasing toughness and ductility of polymer networks using a bio-inspired Sacrificial Bonds and Hidden Length (SBHL) mechanism. This work highlights the role of local network characteristics on macroscopic mechanical observables and opens new pathways for designing tough polymer networks.

Copyright (c) 2017 by ASME
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