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Modeling rate dependent damage in polymer networks with sacrificial bonds

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Mechanical Response of Two Dimensional Polymer Networks: Role of Topology, Rate Dependence, and Damage Accumulation

Konik Kothari, Yuhang Hu, Sahil Gupta and Ahmed Elbanna

The skeleton of many natural and artificial soft materials can be abstracted as networks of fibers/polymers interacting in a nonlinear 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 (WLC) 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 nonmonotonic 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.


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