Strain rate effects on the thermomechanical behavior of polymers

Zhouhua Li, John Lambros

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The thermomechanical behavior of two common polymers, polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) and polycarbonate (PC), subjected to compressive dynamic loading was investigated in this study. The stress-strain response of each material was examined, over a wide range of strain rates (10-4 to 103 s-1), using an Instron machine and a split Hopkinson pressure bar (SHPB). It was found that the compressive yield stress for both materials increases with strain rate increases. For PMMA, the material changes its compression behavior from ductile to brittle as strain rate increases. In the SHPB experiments, simultaneously to stress and strain measurements from the bars, temperature change was monitored using a high speed infrared HgCdTe detector array. The amount of plastic work converted to heat, β, was measured. For PC, this value was found to be within the range of 0.5 to 0.6. It was found that competition between thermal softening and strain hardening dictates the behavior of this material after yielding, in a process similar to that occurring in metals. For PMMA, a value of β could not be defined, because of the brittle nature of the material. However, some heating was observed during the failure of the PMMA specimen, suggesting that the material at this strain rate is not perfectly brittle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3549-3562
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Solids and Structures
Issue number20
StatePublished - Apr 4 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Dynamic load
  • Infrared detectors
  • Polymers
  • SHPB
  • Strain rate sensitivity
  • Thermomechanical coupling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


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