Influence of solvent size on the mechanical properties and rheology of polydimethylsiloxane-based polymeric gels

Randy A. Mrozek*, Phillip J. Cole, Kathryn J. Otim, Kenneth R. Shull, Joseph L. Lenhart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Soft polymeric gels have utility in a broad range of medical, industrial, and military applications, which has led to an extensive research investment over the past several decades. While most gel research exploits a cross-linked polymer network swollen with small molecule solvents, this article systematically investigates the impact of the solvent molecular weight on the resulting gel mechanical properties. The model polymer gel was composed of a chemically cross-linked polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) network loaded with a non-reactive PDMS solvent. In addition to investigating the impact of solvent loading, the solvent molecular weight was varied from 423,000 g/mol to 1250 g/mol, broadly spanning the molecular weight of entanglement for PDMS (MW ENT ∼29,000 g/mol). The gels exhibited a strong frequency dependent mechanical response when the solvent molecular weight >MW ENT. In addition, scaling factors of shear storage modulus versus solvent loading displayed a distinct decrease from the theoretical value for networks formed in a theta solvent of 2.3 with increasing measurement frequency and solvent molecular weight. The frequency dependent shear storage modulus could be shifted by the ratio of solvent molecular weights to the 3.4 power to form a master curve at a particular solvent loading indicating that mobility of entangled solvent plays a critical role for the mechanical response. In addition, the incorporation of entangled solvent can increase the toughness of the PDMS gels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3422-3430
Number of pages9
Issue number15
StatePublished - Jul 7 2011


  • Gel
  • Solvent molecular weight
  • Toughness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


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