Indexed on: 05 Dec '17Published on: 04 Dec '17Published in: ACS Macro Letters
In this study, the quasi-static fracture behavior of slide-ring gels (SR gels), in which movable cross-links can slide on polymer chains, is for the first time investigated and compared to that of conventional polymer gels with fixed cross-links (FC gels). For the usual FC gels, there is a trade-off relation between toughness (fracture energy ) and stiffness (Young’s modulus E): with increasing cross-linking density, the Young’s modulus E increases, while fracture energy decreases. However, SR gels show an unusual fracture behavior that contradicts this trade-off relation. The fracture energy of SR gels is independent of the Young’s modulus, in other words, the cross-linking density; moreover, it rises with increasing slidable range of movable cross-links on polymer chains. A new molecular model is proposed by attributing the unusual fracture properties of SR gels to the relative sliding movement between polymer chains and cross-links. Utilizing this concept, simultaneous fulfillment of high stiffness and high toughness in polymer gels can be realized.