Determining the influence of temperature and pressure on the structural stability in a polyurea elastomer

T Eastmond and J Hu and V Alizadeh and R Hrubiak and J Oswald and K Kim and A Amirkhizi and P Peralta, POLYMER, 286, 126372 (2023).

DOI: 10.1016/j.polymer.2023.126372

The structural response of amorphous elastomers to applied pressure and temperature is of significant interest given their potential for blast and impact protection applications. While understanding disordered structures is often challenging, this study focuses on the ordered correlations that are present at the atomic level even in amorphous materials. This local order was characterized in polyurea elastomers with two molecular weights up to 6 GPa and similar to 280 degrees C using in situ energy dispersive X-ray diffraction at the Advanced Photon Source via total scattering techniques. The resulting structure factors and pair distribution functions indicate that the applied pressure reduced the free volume but had little effect on covalent bonds for both molecular weights. Temperature-induced order-disorder transitions that occur readily at ambient pressures within the temperature range studied here were not observed, their onset likely delayed by the limited chain mobility associated with the free volume reduction. This study demonstrates that total scattering offers insights into the high- pressure structure of disordered polymers that are otherwise inaccessible using more conventional X-ray scattering techniques.

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