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Title: Healing of polymer interfaces: Interfacial dynamics, entanglements, and strength

Self-healing of polymer films often takes place as the molecules diffuse across a damaged region, above their melting temperature. Using molecular dynamics simulations we probe the healing of polymer films and compare the results with those obtained for thermal welding of homopolymer slabs. These two processes differ from each other in their interfacial structure since damage leads to increased polydispersity and more short chains. A polymer sample was cut into two separate films that were then held together in the melt state. The recovery of the damaged film was followed as time elapsed and polymer molecules diffused across the interface. The mass uptake and formation of entanglements, as obtained from primitive path analysis, are extracted and correlated with the interfacial strength obtained from shear simulations. We find that the diffusion across the interface is signifcantly faster in the damaged film compared to welding because of the presence of short chains. Though interfacial entanglements increase more rapidly for the damaged films, a large fraction of these entanglements are near chain ends. As a result, the interfacial strength of the healing film increases more slowly than for welding. For both healing and welding, the interfacial strength saturates as the bulk entanglement densitymore » is recovered across the interface. However, the saturation strength of the damaged film is below the bulk strength for the polymer sample. At saturation, cut chains remain near the healing interface. They are less entangled and as a result they mechanically weaken the interface. When the strength of the interface saturates, the number of interfacial entanglements scales with the corresponding bulk entanglement density. Chain stiffness increases the density of entanglements, which increases the strength of the interface. Our results show that a few entanglements across the interface are sufficient to resist interfacial chain pullout and enhance the mechanical strength.« less
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [3]
  1. Johns Hopkins Univ., Baltimore, MD (United States). Department of Physics and Astronomy
  2. Clemson Univ., SC (United States)
  3. Sandia National Lab. (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 1539-3755; PLEEE8; 507362
Grant/Contract Number:
AC04-94AL85000; AC02-05CH11231; FG02-12ER46843; DMR-1006805; CMMI-0923018; OCI-0963185
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Physical Review. E, Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics (Print)
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: Physical Review. E, Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics (Print); Journal Volume: 90; Journal Issue: 1; Journal ID: ISSN 1539-3755
American Physical Society (APS)
Research Org:
Sandia National Lab. (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA); USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES) (SC-22)
Country of Publication:
United States
OSTI Identifier: