Broadband dielectric spectroscopy (BDS) is introduced as a new and powerful technique to monitor network and macroscale damage healing in an elastomer. For the proof of concept, a partially cured sulfur-cured natural rubber (NR) containing reversible disulfides as the healing moiety was employed. The forms of damage healed and monitored were an invisible damage in the rubber network due to multiple straining and an imposed macroscopic crack. The relaxation times of pristine, damaged, and healed samples were determined and fitted to the Havriliak−Negami equation to obtain the characteristic polymer parameters. It is shown that seemingly full mechanical healing occurred regardless the type of damage, while BDS demonstrates that the polymer architecture in the healed material differs from that in the original one. These results represent a step forward in the understanding of damage and healing processes in intrinsic self-healing polymer systems with prospective applications such as coatings, tires, seals, and gaskets.
- broadband dielectric spectroscopy
- polymer network healing
- interfacial healing
- natural rubber
- intrinsic healing