Influence of molecular weight and molecular weight distribution on the tensile properties of amorphous polymers



Tensile property data for polystyrene samples of varying polydispersity are correlated with various parametric measures of molecular weight. Traditional measures of molecular weight, such as M̄n, M̄w, and M̄z, are shown to be unable to account for the variation of tensile properties with molecular weight. However, a new molecular weight parameter, termed the failure property parameter, is able to provide a single relationship between tensile strength and the parameter for both the broad and narrow distribution polymers. The form of this parameter is consistent with its having origins in the view that it is the entanglement network in an amorphous polymer that provides the observed strength properties. Specifically for polystyrene, the failure property parameter results indicate that material below 60,000 molecular weight does not contribute to polymer strength. Although the results of this investigation are specifically for polystyrene, the arguments used to develop the failure property parameter are not dependent on polymer chemical structure. Consequently, we believe that both the concepts and definition of this new parameter are applicable to all amorphous polymers.