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How well does it heal ? Fracture mechanics as useful tool to evaluate the healing capability of novel polymers

Antonio Mattia Grande Novel Aerospace Materials Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands

Over the last few years, a number of promising strategies and approaches to develop polymers with healing capabilities have been proposed. A thorough understanding of the healing phenomena is then required for the further development and application of such materials. To date, there is no generally accepted method for evaluation of healing efficiency and most researchers have used the recovery of tensile strength of broken samples as the measure of healing in “soft” polymers. Despite it being widely used, tensile testing is not the ideal measurement method for the quantification of the self-healing process although it offers a fast first-order approximation. More quantitative information on the healing process can be potentially obtained from test protocols based on fracture mechanics. In this talk, a fracture mechanics testing procedure is presented and proposed to investigate the healing behaviour of healable “soft” polymers. Various materials based on different reversible chemistries were tested under tensile and fracture experimental conditions. The obtained results demonstrate how the fracture protocol is more suitable to identify the relevant physical and chemical processes across the interface between two former fracture surfaces providing more quantitative information on the healing behaviour respect to the tensile testing procedure. Furthermore a first comparison of the healing performance is presented highlighting the pros and cons of the studied healable polymers.