An elastomer with ultrahigh strain-induced crystallization

CM Hartquist and ST Lin and JH Zhang and S Wang and M Rubinstein and XH Zhao, SCIENCE ADVANCES, 9, eadj0411 (2023).

DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.adj0411

Strain-induced crystallization (SIC) prevalently strengthens, toughens, and enables an elastocaloric effect in elastomers. However, the crystallinity induced by mechanical stretching in common elastomers (e.g., natural rubber) is typically below 20%, and the stretchability plateaus due to trapped entanglements. We report a class of elastomers formed by end-linking and then deswelling star polymers with low defects and no trapped entanglements, which achieve strain-induced crystallinity of up to 50%. The deswollen end-linked star elastomer (DELSE) reaches an ultrahigh stretchability of 12.4 to 33.3, scaling beyond the saturated limit of common elastomers. The DELSE also exhibits a high fracture energy of 4.2 to 4.5 kJ m-2 while maintaining low hysteresis. The heightened SIC and stretchability synergistically promote a high elastocaloric effect with an adiabatic temperature change of 9.3 degrees C.

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