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Issue 27, 2020

Molecular understanding for large deformations of soft bottlebrush polymer networks

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Abstract

Networks formed by crosslinking bottlebrush polymers are a class of soft materials with stiffnesses matching that of ‘watery’ hydrogels and biological tissues but contain no solvents. Because of their extreme softness, bottlebrush polymer networks are often subject to large deformations. However, it is poorly understood how molecular architecture determines the extensibility of the networks. Using a combination of experimental and theoretical approaches, we discover that the yield strain γy of the network equals the ratio of the contour length Lmax to the end-to-end distance R of the bottlebrush between two neighboring crosslinks: γy = Lmax/R − 1. This relation suggests two regimes: (1) for stiff bottlebrush polymers, γy is inversely proportional to the network shear modulus G, γyG−1, which represents a previously unrecognized regime; (2) for flexible bottlebrush polymers, γyG−1/2, which recovers the behavior of conventional polymer networks. Our findings provide a new molecular understanding of the nonlinear mechanics for soft bottlebrush polymer networks.

Graphical abstract: Molecular understanding for large deformations of soft bottlebrush polymer networks

Supplementary files

Article information


Submitted
27 Apr 2020
Accepted
08 Jun 2020
First published
09 Jun 2020

Soft Matter, 2020,16, 6259-6264
Article type
Communication
Author version available

Molecular understanding for large deformations of soft bottlebrush polymer networks

L. Cai, Soft Matter, 2020, 16, 6259 DOI: 10.1039/D0SM00759E

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