Basic Theory of Elasticity and Viscoelasticity
In the physically stressful environment there are three major ways in which a material can respond to external forces. It can add the load directly on to the forces which hold the constituent atoms or molecules together. This occurs in simple crystalline (including polymeric crystalline) and ceramic materials, and such materials are typically very rigid. Or it can feed the energy into large changes in shape (the main mechanism in rubber and other non-crystalline polymers). And finally it can flow away from the force and deform either semi-permanently (as with viscoelastic materials) or permanently (as with plastic materials).
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