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Towards an understanding of thermally activated self-healing of an ionomer system during ballistic penetration
journal contributionposted on 01.11.2008, 00:00 authored by Russell VarleyRussell Varley, S van der Zwaag
The self-healing phenomenon exhibited by the ionomer known as Surlyn 8940 (DuPont), a partially neutralized poly(ethylene-co-methacrylic acid) random co-polymer, during high-energy impact has been investigated here according to three separate strategies. The first consisted of a post-mortem scanning electron microscopy examination of impact surfaces of actual ballistic impacts for a range of bullets with different shapes, sizes and velocities. A complex range of competing and/or complementary processes based upon elastic and viscous responses was observed. The elastic response to impact provides for a polymer rebound or shape memory effect, while the viscous response provides for the final sealing of the cavity and is dependent upon the level of thermal frictional forces transferred during impact. The balance of these influences determines healing, and is shown to be altered by the size and shape of the bullet or indeed by the polymer morphology itself. The second strategy investigated the healing mechanism using a method that mimics the elastic response to impact in a controlled environment. This work highlighted the importance of the ionic clusters present in the ionomer and the gradient of viscoelastic properties formed at varying distances from the impact zone particularly when compared to non-ionic polymers. The repeatability of elastic healing was demonstrated, and reinforced the notion that healing arose from the inherent polymer structure of the ionomer. The third strategy investigated the role of the viscous response during impact and found that increased molecular mobility in the melt was critical to achieving optimal healing, although again the ionic clusters were found to be critical to maintaining sufficient structural integrity and preventing excess viscous flow.