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Xuanhe Zhao's picture

Symposium on Soft Materials and Structures at 49th SES Meeting (Abstract Deadline: April 2, 2012)

Dear Colleagues,

We would like to to draw your attention to the Symposium on **Soft Materials and Structures** to take place at the upcoming 49th Meeting of the Society of Engineering Sciences (SES) at GeorgiaTech, Atlanta, GA (October 10-12, 2011). More information can be found in the meeting's website:

Yuhang Hu's picture

Poroelastic relaxation indentation of thin layers of gels

We develop a method of poroelastic relaxation indentation (PRI) to characterize thin layers of gels.  The solution to the time-dependent boundary-value problem is obtained in a remarkably simple form, so that the force-relaxation curve obtained by indenting a gel readily determines all the poroelastic constants of the gel—the shear modulus, Poisson’s ratio, and the effective diffusivity.  The method is demonstrated with a layer of polydimethylsiloxane immersed in heptane.

xiao_wang's picture

A Theory of Ionic Polymer Conductor Network Composite

Ionic polymer conductor network composite (IPCNC) is a mixed conductor consisting of a network of loaded ionomer and another network of metallic particles. It is known that the microstructure of the composite, especially that of the electrodes, plays a dominating role in the performance of an IPCNC. However the microstructures of IPCNC have seldom been addressed in theoretical models. This letter formulates a continuum field theory for IPCNC by considering a supercapacitor-like microstructure with a large distributed interface area.

Cai Shengqiang's picture

Poroelasticity of a covalently crosslinked alginate hydrogel under compression

This paper studies the poroelastic behavior of an alginate hydrogel by a combination of theory and experiment. The gel—covalently crosslinked, submerged in water and fully swollen—is suddenly compressed between two parallel plates. The gap between the plates is held constant subsequently, and the force on the plate relaxes while water in the gel migrates. This experiment is analyzed by using the theory of linear poroelasticity.

Yuhang Hu's picture

Indentation of polydimethylsiloxane submerged in organic solvents

This paper uses a method based on indentation to characterize a polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) elastomer submerged in an organic solvent (decane, heptane, pentane, or cyclohexane).  An indenter is pressed into a disk of a swollen elastomer to a fixed depth, and the force on the indenter is recorded as a function of time.  By examining how the relaxation time scales with the radius of contact, one can differentiate the poroelastic behavior from the viscoelastic behavior.  By matching the relaxation curve measured experimentally to that derived from the theory of poroelasticity, one can identify

Yuhang Hu's picture

Using indentation to characterize the poroelasticity of gels

When an indenter is pressed into a gel to a fixed depth, the solvent in the gel migrates, and the force on the indenter relaxes. Within the theory of poroelasticity, the force relaxation curves for indenters of several types are obtained in a simple form, enabling indentation to be used with ease as a method for determining the elastic constants and permeability of the gel. The method is demonstrated with a conical indenter on an alginate hydrogel.

Cai Shengqiang's picture

A theory of constrained swelling of a pH-sensitive hydrogel

Many engineering devices and natural phenomena involve gels that swell under the constraint of hard materials. The constraint causes a field of stress in a gel, and often makes the swelling inhomogeneous even when the gel reaches a state of equilibrium. To analyze inhomogeneous swelling of a pH-sensitive gel, we implement a finite element method in the commercial software ABAQUS.  The program is attached here.  Contact Shenqiang Cai ( for a description of the program.

Wei Hong's picture

Formation of creases on the surfaces of elastomers and gels

When a block of an elastomer is bent, the compressed surface may form a crease. This paper analyzes the critical condition for creasing by comparing the elastic energy in a creased body and that in a smooth body. This difference in energy is expressed by a scaling relation. Critical conditions for creasing are determined for elastomers subject to general loads and gels swelling under constraint. The theoretical results are compared with existing experimental observations.

Wei Hong's picture

Large deformation and electrochemistry of polyelectrolyte gels

Immersed in an ionic solution, a network of polyelectrolyte polymers imbibes the solution and swells, resulting in a polyelectrolyte gel. The swelling is reversible, and is regulated by ionic concentrations, mechanical forces, and electric potentials. This paper develops a field theory to couple large deformation and electrochemistry. A specific material model is described, including the effects of stretching the network, mixing the polymers with the solvent and ions, and polarizing the gel.

Zhigang Suo's picture

Large deformation and instability in gels

I'm attaching slides of a talk that I gave yesterday at the Schlumberger-Doll Research Center.  In preparing the talk, I made liberal use of slides prepared by Wei Hong for his own presentations.  The talk is mainly based on the following papers:

Xuanhe Zhao's picture

Inhomogeneous and anisotropic equilibrium state of a swollen hydrogel containing a hard core

A polymer network can imbibe water from environment and swell to an equilibrium state. If the equilibrium is reached when the network is subject to external mechanical constraint, the deformation of the network is typically anisotropic, and the concentration of water inhomogeneous.  Such an equilibrium state in a network constrained by a hard core is modeled here with a nonlinear differential equation.  The presence of the hard core markedly reduces the concentration of water near the interface and causes high stresses.

Wei Hong's picture

Drying-induced bifurcation in a hydrogel-actuated nanostructure

Hydrogels have enormous potential for making adaptive structures in response to diverse stimuli.  In a structure demonstrated recently, for example, nanoscale rods of silicon were embedded vertically in a swollen hydrogel, and the rods tilted by a large angle in response to a drying environment (Sidorenko, et al., Science 315, 487, 2007).  Here we describe a model to show that this behavior corresponds to a bifurcation at a critical humidity, analogous to a phase transition of the second kind.

Wei Hong's picture

A theory of coupled diffusion and large deformation in polymeric gels

   A large quantity of small molecules may migrate into a network of long polymers, causing the network to swell, forming an aggregate known as a polymeric gel.  This paper formulates a theory of the coupled mass transport and large deformation.

Xuanhe Zhao's picture

Stretching and polarizing a dielectric gel immersed in a solvent

      This paper studies a gel formed by a network of cross-linked polymers and a species of mobile molecules. The gel is taken to be a dielectric, in which both the polymers and the mobile molecules are nonionic. We formulate a theory of the gel in contact with a solvent made of the mobile molecules, and subject to electromechanical loads. A free-energy function is constructed for an ideal dielectric gel, including contributions from stretching the network, mixing the polymers and the small molecules, and polarizing the gel.

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