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Mechanochemically Responsive Viscoelastic Elastomers

MahdiT's picture

A research paper published in Vol. 83 of Journal of Applied Mechanics


Mechanochemically responsive (MCR) polymers have been designed to possess unconventional properties such as changing colors, self-healing, and releasing catalysts under deformation. These properties of MCR polymers stem from a class of molecules, referred to as mechanophores, whose chemical reactions can be controlled by mechanical forces. Although extensive studies have been devoted to the syntheses of MCR polymers by incorporating various mechanophores into polymer networks, the intricate interactions between mechanical forces and chemical reactions in MCR polymers across multiple length and time scales are still not well understood. In this paper, we focus on mechanochemical responses in viscoelastic elastomers and develop a theoretical model to characterize the coupling between viscoelasticity and chemical reactions of MCR elastomers. We show that the kinetics of viscoelasticity and mechanophore reactions introduce different time scales into the MCR elastomers. The model can consistently represent experimental data on both mechanical properties and chemical reactions of MCR viscoelastic elastomers. In particular, we explain recent experimental observations on the increasing chemical activation during stress relaxation of MCR elastomers, which cannot be explained with existing models. The proposed model provides a theoretical foundation for the design of future MCR polymers with desirable properties.

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