Effect of viscoelasticity on the spherical and flat adhesion characteristics of photopolymerizable acrylate polymer networks

This research is the first of its kind to study the comparison between spherical and flat probe adhesion behavior as a function of viscoelasticity. Viscoelastic properties were tailored through the use of acrylate networks synthesized fromtert-butyl acrylate and poly(ethylene glycol) dimethacrylate (PEGDMA) solutions. The molecular weight and the weight fraction of PEGDMA crosslinker was altered to maintain a constant glass transition temperature of approximately 57 °C, but systematically vary the viscoelastic properties and the rubbery moduli (1-62 MPa). Dynamic mechanical analysis was performed to characterize the low-strain thermo-mechanical behavior of the materials. Viscoelastic behavior of the materials was characterized by creep testing and was observed to inversely correlate with crosslinking density. The samples tested with the spherical probe exhibited low pull-off forces at temperatures well above and well below the glass transition temperature of the material. A maximum in pull-off force was observed in the vicinity of the glass transition temperature owing to the viscoelastic energy dissipative processes. The peak in pull-off force was observed to decrease with an increase in crosslinking density and modulus. Adhesion measurements using the flat probe demonstrated a strong dependence of pull-off force on the modulus of the material above the glass transition temperature. It is concluded that viscoelasticity is a dominating factor in increasing the pull-off force values in the vicinity of the glass transition, while it plays a little or no role for temperatures +/-20 °C away from transition region, opening the possibility of thermally switchable adhesives.