Date: 15 Feb 2002

Adhesion and Fracture of Interfaces Between Immiscible Polymers: from the Molecular to the Continuum Scal

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In order to obtain a measurable fracture toughness, a joint between two immiscible polymer glasses must be able to transfer mechanical stress across the interface. This stress transfer capability is very weak for narrow interfaces and a significant reinforcement can be achieved, either by the use of connecting chains (block copolymers), or by a broadening of the interface (random copolymers). In both cases, the stress is transferred by entanglements between polymer chains. The molecular criteria for efficient stress transfer, by connecting chains and by broad interfaces, are reviewed here with a special emphasis on the role of the molecular architecture (diblock, triblock or random copolymers) and molecular weight of the chains present at the interface. Recent theoretical developments in the relationship between macroscopic fracture toughness and interfacial stress transfer are also discussed, and the essential role of bulk plastic deformation properties of the polymers on either side of the interface are specifically addressed.