Coupled bond dynamics alters relaxation in polymers with multiple intrinsic dissociation rates†
Dynamic networks containing multiple bond types within a continuous network grant engineers another design parameter – relative bond fraction – by which to tune storage and dissipation of mechanical energy. However, the mechanisms governing emergent properties are difficult to deduce experimentally. Therefore, we here employ a network model with prescribed fractions of dynamic and stable bonds to predict relaxation characteristics of hybrid networks. We find that during stress relaxation, predominantly dynamic networks can exhibit long-term moduli through conformationally inhibited relaxation of stable bonds due to exclusion interactions with neighboring chains. Meanwhile, predominantly stable networks exhibit minor relaxation through non-affine reconfiguration of dynamic bonds. Given this, we introduce a single fitting parameter, ξ, to Transient Network Theory via a coupled rule of mixture, that characterizes the extent of stable bond relaxation. Treating ξ as a fitting parameter, the coupled rule of mixture's predicted stress response not only agrees with the network model's, but also unveils likely micromechanical traits of gels hosting multiple bond dissociation timescales.