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The Theory Of Rubber Elasticity

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This paper attempts to improve several weaknesses in the classical theories of rubber elasticity. It develops a formulation of the statistical thermodynamics of amorphous materials analogous to the Gibbs formalism for conventional statistical mechanics. This then permits the replacement of ‘phantom chains’, i.e. long polymer molecules with the fictitious property that they experience no forces except at cross link points and are transparent to one another, by realistic molecules which do experience forces and which can become entangled. The crosslinked points are no longer assumed to deform affinely with the gross behaviour of the solid. Under the simplest conditions forms like the classical are recovered but with a different coefficient, and the term representing the degrees of freedom lost by crosslinking, over which the classical theories are in dispute, is found to lie between the previous values in a formula which can reproduce the classical results by making different assumptions. The entanglements give rise to more complicated forms than the classical sum of squares of strain ratios, which under certain circumstances can reproduce the Mooney-Rivlin term which when added empirically to the free energy usually improves the fit with experiment. The general expression is complicated, but is nevertheless an explicit function of the density of crosslinks, the density of the rubber and the interchain forces.