Star topology increases ballistic resistance in thin polymer films

A Giuntoli and NK Hansoge and S Keten, EXTREME MECHANICS LETTERS, 41, 101038 (2020).

DOI: 10.1016/j.eml.2020.101038

Polymeric films with greater impact and ballistic resistance are highly desired for numerous applications, but molecular configurations that best address this need remain subject to debate. We study the resistance to ballistic impact of thin polymer films using coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations, investigating melts of linear polymer chains and star polymers with varying number (2 <= f <= 16) and degree of polymerization (10 <= M <= 50) of the arms. We show that increasing the number of arms f or the length of the arms M both result in greater specific penetration energy within the parameter ranges studied. Greater interpenetration of chains in stars with larger f allows energy to be dissipated predominantly through rearrangement of the stars internally, rather than chain sliding. During film deformation, stars with large f show higher energy absorption rates soon after contact with the projectile, whereas stars with larger M have a delayed response where dissipation arises primarily from chain sliding, which results in significant back face deformation. Our results suggest that stars may be advantageous for tuning energy dissipation mechanisms of ultra-thin films. These findings set the stage for a topology-based strategy for the design of impact-resistant polymer films. (C) 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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