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A Theory for Large Deformation and Damage of Interpenetrating Polymer Networks

Xuanhe Zhao's picture

Xuanhe Zhao 

Soft Active Materials Laboratory, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708

Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids, In press 


Elastomers and gels can be formed by interpenetrating two polymer networks on a molecular scale. This paper develops a theory to characterize the large deformation and damage of interpenetrating polymer networks. The theory integrates an interpenetrating network model with the network alteration theory. The interpenetration of one network stretches polymer chains in the other network and reduces its chain density, significantly affecting the initial modulus, stiffening and damage properties of the resultant elastomers and gels. Double-network hydrogels, a special type of interpenetrating polymer network, have demonstrated intriguing mechanical properties including high fracture toughness, Mullins effects, and necking instability. These properties have been qualitatively attributed to the damage of polymer networks. Using the theory, we quantitatively illustrate how the interplay between polymer-chain stiffening and damage-induced softening can cause the Mullins effect and necking instability. The theory is further implemented into a finite-element model to simulate the initiation and propagation of necking instability in double-network hydrogels. The theoretical and numerical results are compared with experimental data from multiple cyclic compressive and tensile tests.

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