We discuss the connection between high-temperature mechanics, block structure, and composition of a model series of industrially relevant, soft, thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs) containing polydisperse hard blocks (HBs). The high-strain deformation behavior of these materials results from the combination of multiple dynamics in the system, i.e., the HB associations and the mobile and entangled amorphous phase. Many soft-TPEs show a reduction in toughness with increasing temperature. Molecular weight (Mw) has been shown to improve the temperature-dependent mechanics by increasing network connectivity. In this work, we investigate the possibility to increase the network connectivity by tuning block length at constant Mw and composition. The average number of HBs per chain can be used to quantify network connectivity; however, by using block statistics, we show how increasing this value is not enough to increase the high-temperature mechanics, especially in the case of polydisperse HBs. Since temperature affects the HB ability to associate with each other, only the number of associated HBs per chain determines network connectivity. The experimental results are consistent with modeling predictions, revealing how decreasing the average block length influences the crystal stability, which ultimately controls network connectivity, and how this relationship is affected by temperature.
Effect of block length on the network connectivity and temperature resistance of model, soft thermoplastic elastomers
Note: This paper is part of the special issue on Double Dynamics Polymeric Networks.
Simone Sbrescia, Paola Nicolella, Tom Engels, Michelle Seitz; Effect of block length on the network connectivity and temperature resistance of model, soft thermoplastic elastomers. J. Rheol. 1 January 2022; 66 (1): 177–185. https://doi.org/10.1122/8.0000373
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