Stretching and polarizing a dielectric gel immersed in a solvent
This paper studies a gel formed by a network of cross-linked polymers and a species of mobile molecules. The gel is taken to be a dielectric, in which both the polymers and the mobile molecules are non-ionic. We formulate a theory of the gel in contact with a solvent made of the mobile molecules, and subject to electromechanical loads. A free-energy function is constructed for an ideal dielectric gel, including contributions from stretching the network, mixing the polymers and the small molecules, and polarizing the gel. We show that the free-energy function is non-convex, leading to instabilities. We also show that mechanical constraint markedly affects the behavior of the gel. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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