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Counting Secondary Loops Is Required for Accurate Prediction of End-Linked Polymer Network Elasticity

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journal contribution
posted on 06.02.2018, 13:03 by Junpeng Wang, Tzyy-Shyang Lin, Yuwei Gu, Rui Wang, Bradley D. Olsen, Jeremiah A. Johnson
To predict and understand the properties of polymer networks, it is necessary to quantify network defects. Of the various possible network defects, loops are perhaps the most pervasive and yet difficult to directly measure. Network disassembly spectrometry (NDS) has previously enabled counting of the simplest loopsprimary loopsbut higher-order loops, e.g., secondary loops, have remained elusive. Here, we report that the introduction of a nondegradable tracer within the NDS framework enables the simultaneous measurement of primary and secondary loops in end-linked polymer networks for the first time. With this new “NDS2.0” method, the concentration dependences of the primary and secondary loop fractions are measured; the results agree well with a purely topological theory for network formation from phantom chains. In addition, semibatch monomer addition is shown to decrease both primary and secondary loops, though the latter to a much smaller extent. Finally, using the measured primary and secondary loop fractions, we were able to predict the shear storage modulus of end-linked polymer gels via real elastic network theory (RENT).