We report the mechanical response of a model nanocomposite system of poly(styrene) (PS)-silica to large-amplitude oscillatory shear deformations. Nonlinear behavior of PS nanocomposites is discussed with the changes in particle dispersion upon deformation to provide a complete physical picture of their mechanical properties. The elastic stresses for the particle and polymer are resolved by decomposing the total stress into its purely elastic and viscous components for composites at different strain levels within a cycle of deformation. We propose a mechanistic model which captures the deformation of particles and polymer networks at small and large strains, respectively. We show, for the first time, that chain stretching in a polymer nanocomposite obtained in large amplitude oscillatory deformation is in good agreement with the nonlinear chain deformation theory of polymeric networks. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Polym Sci Part B: Polym Phys, 2013
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