Tailor-made thermoplastic elastomers: customisable materials via modulation of molecular weight distributions†
The ability to change polymer properties has in the past largely been a factor of modulating the molecular weight, molecular weight distribution breadth, crosslinking, or branching. The use of controlled MWD shape has recently emerged as a promising avenue towards modifying polymer properties. Taking advantage of molecular weight distribution shape, we report a simple and efficient approach for tuning material properties in polystyrene-block-polyisoprene-block-polystyrene (SIS) thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs). We find that the skew of the MWD function governs tensile properties and can be used as a handle to predictably vary polymer toughness while reducing energy dissipation.