Swelling molecular entanglement networks in polymer glasses
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Entanglements in a polymer network are like knots between the polymer chains, and they are at the root of many phenomena observed in polymer systems. When a polymer glass is strained, cracklike deformations called crazes may be formed and the study of these regions can reveal much about the nature of entanglements. We have studied crazes in systems that are blends of long polymer chains diluted with chains of various small molecular weights. The range of diluting chain lengths is such that a fraction of them have conformations leading to entanglements. It has been found that a system with more short chains added acts like one in which the entanglement density is smaller than that in an undiluted system. We propose a model that quantitatively predicts the density of effective entanglements of a polydisperse system of polymer chains which is consistent with our experimental data.
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