Adhesion of triblock copolymer-based thermoreversible gels and pressure sensitive adhesives

K. R. Shull*, A. J. Crosby, C. M. Flanigan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Triblock copolymers with poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) end blocks and a poly(n-butyl acrylate) (PnBA) midblock have been synthesized as model pressure sensitive adhesives and thermoreversible gels. These materials dissolve in a variety of alcohols at temperatures above 60°C to form freely flowing liquids. At lower temperatures the PMMA end-blocks associate so that the solutions form ideally elastic solids. In our case the solvent is 2-ethylhexanol, polymer volume fractions vary from 0.05 to 0.3, and the elastic moduli are close to 10,000 Pa. We have conducted three types of experiments to elucidate the origins of adhesion and bulk mechanical properties of these materials: 1) Weakly adhering gels: The adhesive properties of the gels are dominated by the solvent. Very little adhesion hysteresis is observed in this case, although we do observe hysteresis associated with the frictional response of the layers. 2) Strongly adhering gels. By heating the gels in contact with a PMMA surface, it is possible to bond the gels to the surface. Development of adhesion as the PMMA blocks penetrate into the PMMA substrate can be probed in this case. The cohesive strengths of the gels are found to be substantially greater than their elastic moduli, so that these materials can be reversibly extended to very high strains. These properties have enabled us to probe the origins of elastic shape instabilities that play a very important role in the behavior of thin adhesive layers. 3) Dried gels - model pressure sensitive adhesives. By removing the solvent at low temperatures, the underlying structure of the gel is preserved, giving a thin elastic layer with excellent performance as a pressure sensitive adhesive. Resistance to adhesive failure, expressed as a velocity-dependent fracture energy, greatly exceeds the thermodynamic work of adhesion. This energy is further magnified by 'bulk' energy dissipation when the stress applied to the adhesive layer exceeds its yield stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)FF8.2.1-FF8.2.6
JournalMaterials Research Society Symposium - Proceedings
StatePublished - 2000
EventInterfaces, Adhesion and Processing in Polymer Systems - San Francisco, CA, United States
Duration: Apr 24 2000Apr 27 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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