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Void nucleation and disentanglement in glassy amorphous polymers
Cavitation in glassy polymers is known to result from highly triaxial states of local stress and the presence of impurities. Understanding of cavitation, particularly void nucleation, is important as cavities are precursors to crazes, which in turn lead to fracture. In this work we study the early stages of void nucleation in glassy amorphous polymers by imposing, in well designed molecular dynamics simulations, highly triaxial states of stress on ensembles of entangled linear macromolecular chains and monitoring the evolution of the entanglement network. Our results demonstrate that deformation induced disentanglement and rearrangement of topological constraints along individual chains play an important role in the early stages of void nucleation. Even in the glassy state, deformation causes significant changes in the rheological constraints on a chain though the number of interchain binary contacts may not change much.