Plastic deformation of ethylene/methacrylic acid copolymers and ionomers

Robert C. Scogna, Richard A. Register

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


A material strained beyond its yield point typically suffers substantial irrecoverable deformation. Surprisingly, this is not the case for ethylene/methacrylic acid (E/MAA) copolymers and ionomers, for which significant permanent deformation does not result until the applied strain exceeds 50-150%, far beyond the yield strain of 5-10%. At room temperature, strain recovery is complete on the order of hours or days following the removal of the applied load. Interestingly, the onset of permanent deformation coincides with a broad maximum or shoulder in the plot of stress versus strain. Two-dimensional X-ray scattering studies of both initially isotropic samples and highly aligned blown films reveals that this ''second yield shoulder,'' commonly observed in the stress-strain curves of ethylene/α-olefin copolymers, is fundamentally associated with polyethylene crystal fracture, resulting in fragments of reduced lateral extent. Connections formed between these crystalline fragments lock in the deformed conformations of the amorphous intercrystalline segments, preventing the specimen from retracting to its initial dimensions. Additional recovery is possible through heating; complete melting of the deformed specimens results in full recovery up to applied strains of 200%, beyond which strain-induced chain disentanglement begins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1588-1598
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Polymer Science, Part B: Polymer Physics
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 15 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


  • Ionomers
  • Mechanical properties
  • Polyethylene
  • X-ray
  • Yielding


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