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Water-Responsive and Mechanically Adaptive Natural Rubber Composites by in Situ Modification of Mineral Filler Structures

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5168-5175
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2019
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


A new biomimetic stimuli-responsive adaptive elastomeric material, whose mechanical properties are altered by a water treatment is reported in this paper. This material is a calcium sulphate (CaSO4) filled composite with an epoxidized natural rubber (ENR) matrix. By exploiting various phase transformation processes that arise when CaSO4 is hydrated, several different crystal structures of CaSO4·xH2O can be developed in the cross-linked ENR matrix. Significant improvements in the mechanical and thermal properties are then observed in the water-treated composites. When compared with the untreated sample, there is approximately 100% increase in the dynamic modulus. The thermal stability of the composites is also improved by increasing the maximum degradation rate temperature by about 20 °C. This change in behavior results from an in situ development of hydrated crystal structures of the nanosized CaSO4 particles in the ENR matrix, which has been verified using Raman spectroscopy, transmission electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy, and X-ray scattering. This work provides a promising and relatively simple pathway for the development of next generation of mechanically adaptive elastomeric materials by an eco-friendly route, which may eventually also be developed into an innovative biodegradable and biocompatible smart polymeric material.

Publication forum classification

Field of science, Statistics Finland