The Science and Technology of Rubber, Fourth Edition
The single most important property of elastomers—that from which their name derives—is their ability to undergo large elastic deformations; that is, to stretch and return to their original shape in a reversibleway. Theories to account for this characteristic high elasticity have passed through three distinct phases: (1) the early development of a molecular model relating experimental observations to the known molecular features of rubbery polymers; (2) generalization of this approach by means of symmetry considerations taken from continuum mechanics that are independent of the molecular structure; and (3) a critical reassessment of the basic premises on which these two quantitative theories are founded. In this chapter, the theoretical treatment is briefly outlined and shown to account quite successfully for the observed elastic behavior of rubbery materials. The special case of small elastic deformations is then discussed in some detail because of its technical importance. Finally, attention is drawn to some aspects of rubber elasticity that are still little understood.
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