Ageing and Degradation of Multiphase Polymer Systems
Chapitre d'ouvrage scientifique
Ageing can be deﬁned as a slow and irreversible variation as a function of time (in use conditions) of a material structure, morphology or composition leading to a detrimental change in its use properties. The cause of this change can be the own material instability or its interaction with the environment of exposure. The deﬁnition so given is that viewed from an application point of view. There are issues associated with this deﬁnition that deserve to be mentioned. First, there are ageing mechanisms, essentially of a physical nature as detailed below, that are not irreversible in nature (e.g. crystallinity change, structural recovery, water uptake without loss of the integrity of the chemical structure, etc.), but may lead to a change in the use properties of these materials. The reversibility is in principle achievable by, e.g. thermal treatment or drying. However, this is not necessarily compatible with the use of materials as pieces, or the material will evolve again anyway when exposed to use environmental stresses. Second, irreversible material evolution in itself does not necessarily imply a detrimental change of use properties. It can even result in an improvement of properties. This represents indeed a marked difﬁculty when attempting to deﬁne so-called ‘ageing markers’ for materials, i.e. material properties to be monitored for health monitoring purpose: the marker must be sensitive enough so as to provide the early signs of material evolution but, at the same time, there should be a correlation between the evolution of the marker and the changes in use properties.
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