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Threading and Interlocking: A Mechanism for the Simultaneous Enhancement of Polymer Stiffness, Strength, and Ductility

  • Lokman Torun (a1), Alex J. Paraskos (a2), Nicholas T. Tsui (a3), Timothy M. Swager (a4) and Edwin L. Thomas (a5)...


We have synthesized polyester systems containing pendant iptycene units and compared their mechanical/structural properties to a homologous reference polymer wherein benzene replaces iptycene units. Iptycenes have unique structural properties called internal molecular free volume (IMFV). The incorporation of iptycene into polyester backbones results in a polymer chain contour resembling “molecular barbed wire.” The contribution of iptycene to the mechanical properties of polyesters is significant and robust across concentration and processing conditions. The triptycene polyester films displayed a nearly 3-fold increase in Young's modulus, an approximately 3-fold increase in strength, and a more than 20-fold increase in strain to failure. We proposed that the presence of triptycene introduces two mechanisms for the enhancement of tensile mechanical properties: molecular threading and molecular interlocking.



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