Simple generic picture of tensile toughness in solid polymer blends

D Mukherji and S Agarwal and TE de Oliveira and C Ruscher and J Rottler, PHYSICAL REVIEW MATERIALS, 7, 115601 (2023).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevMaterials.7.115601

The tensile toughness T of a brittle polymeric solid can be enhanced by blending a ductile polymer. While this common wisdom is generally valid, a generic picture is lacking that connects the microscopic details to the macroscopic nonlinear mechanics. Using all-atom and complementary generic simulations, we show how a delicate correlation between the side group contact density of the brittle polymers rho(c) and its dilution upon adding a second component controls T. A set of chemically distinct systems follows a generic trend in T with d rho(c)/d epsilon, where epsilon is the tensile strain. The observed trend is explained using a simple mechanical model based on the parallel spring analogy.

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