Mechanical Behavior of the Lamellar Structure in Semi-Crystalline Polymers
We have employed molecular dynamics simulations to study the behavior of virtual polymeric materials under an applied uniaxial tensile load. Through computer simulations, one can obtain experimentally inaccessible information about phenomena taking place at the molecular and microscopic levels. Not only can the global material response be monitored and characterized along time, but the response of macromolecular chains can be followed independently if desired. The computer-generated materials were created by emulating the step-wise polymerization, resulting in self-avoiding chains in 3D with controlled degree of orientation along a certain axis. These materials represent a simplified model of the lamellar structure of semi-crystalline polymers, being comprised of an amorphous region surrounded by two crystalline lamellar regions. For the simulations, a series of materials were created, varying i) the lamella thickness, ii) the amorphous region thickness, iii) the preferential chain orientation, and iv) the degree of packing of the amorphous region. Simulation results indicate that the lamella thickness has the strongest influence on the mechanical properties of the lamella-amorphous structure, which is in agreement with experimental data. The other morphological parameters also affect the mechanical response, but to a smaller degree. This research follows previous simulation work on the crack formation and propagation phenomena, deformation mechanisms at the nanoscale, and the influence of the loading conditions on the material response. Computer simulations can improve the fundamental understanding about the phenomena responsible for the behavior of polymeric materials, and will eventually lead to the design of knowledge-based materials with improved properties.
Ana Maria Pires Pinto and António Sérgio Pouzada
R. Simões et al., "Mechanical Behavior of the Lamellar Structure in Semi-Crystalline Polymers", Materials Science Forum, Vols. 730-732, pp. 1006-1011, 2013