Effect of the degree of soft and hard segment ordering on the morphology and mechanical behavior of semicrystalline segmented polyurethanes

Reference Presenter Authors
LaShanda Korley Korley, L.(University of Delaware); The hierarchical microstructure responsible for the unique energy-absorbing properties of natural materials, like native spider silk and wood, motivated the development of segmented polyurethanes with soft segments containing multiple levels of order. As a first step in correlating the effects of crystallinity in the soft segment phase to the hard segment phase, we chose to examine the morphology and mechanical behavior of polyurethanes containing polyether soft blocks with varying tendencies to crystallize and phase segregate and the evolution of the microstructure with deformation. A series of high molecular weight polyurethanes containing poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO) (1000 and 4600 g/mol) and poly(ethylene oxide)–poly(propylene oxide)–poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO–PPO–PEO) (1900 g/mol) soft segments with varying hard segment content were synthesized using a two-step solution polymerization method. The presence of soft segment crystallinity (PEO 1000 g/mol) was shown to improve the storage modulus of the segmented polyurethanes below the Tm of the soft block and to enhance toughness compared to the PEO–PPO–PEO soft segment polyurethanes. We postulate that this enhancement in mechanical behavior is the result of crystalline soft regions that serve as an additional load-bearing component during deformation. Morphological characterization also revealed that the microstructure of the segmented polyurethanes shifts from soft segment continuous to interconnected and/or hard domain continuous with increasing hard segment size, resulting in diminished ultimateelongation, but enhanced initial moduli and tensile strengths. Tuning the soft segment phase crystallinity may ultimately lead to tougher polyurethane fibers.
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