Sacrificial Bonds to Toughen Elastomers

Etienne Ducrot and Costantino Creton of the Laboratory of Soft Matter Science and Engineering of the ESPCI ParisTech in collaboration with Yulan Chen and Rint Sijbesma of the Institute for Complex Molecular Systems of TU Eindhoven and Markus Bulters from DSM Ahead, have published their latest results in the issue of Science of April 11th 2014. Their work demonstrates conclusively that ordinarily brittle elastomers can be toughened without using fillers, by using cleverly designed interpenetrated networks (one of which is prestretched). The new elastomers are at the same time elastic and stiff without being brittle. The use of chemoluminescent molecules embedded in the first network as a crosslinker has made it possible to visualize how the sacrificial bonds of the prestretched network break over a large volume ahead of the crack when the crack propagates, effectively increasing its toughness by a factor of 100. These results demonstrate a proof of principle and open the way for interesting new applications for elastomers. Read the details in Science.
read the commentary of Jian Ping Gong of University of Hokkaido

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