2023 article

Surface Mechanical Properties and Topological Characteristics of Thermoplastic Copolyesters after Precisely Controlled Abrasion

Teran, J. E., Pal, L., Spontak, R. J., & Lucia, L. (2023, January 30). ACS APPLIED MATERIALS & INTERFACES.

By: J. Teran n, L. Pal n, R. Spontak n & L. Lucia n

author keywords: microplastic; abrasion; nanoindentation; surface properties; wear topologies
Source: Web Of Science
Added: March 13, 2023

Due to the high probability of surface-to-surface contact of materials during routine applications, surface abrasion remains one of the most challenging factors governing the long-term performance of polymeric materials due to their broad range of tunable mechanical properties, as well as the varied conditions of abrasion (regarding, e.g., rate, load, and contact area). While this concept is empirically mature, a fundamental understanding of mechanical abrasion regarding thermoplastics remains lacking even though polymer abrasion can inadvertently lead to the formation of nano-/microplastics. In the present study, we introduce the concept of precision polymer abrasion (PPA) in conjunction with nanoindentation to elucidate the extent to which controlled wear is experienced by three chemically related thermoplastics under systematically varied abrasion conditions. While depth profiling of one polymer reveals a probe-dependent change in modulus, complementary results from positron annihilation lifetime spectroscopy confirm that the polymer density changes measurably, but not appreciably, with depth over the depth range explored. After a single PPA pass, the surface moduli of the polymers noticeably increase, whereas the corresponding increase in hardness is modest. The dependence of wear volume on the number of PPA passes is observed to reach limiting values for two of the thermoplastics, and application of an empirical model to the data yields estimates of these values for all three thermoplastics. These results suggest that the metrics commonly employed to describe the surface abrasion of polymers requires careful consideration of a host of underlying factors.