Fatigue Response of Solvent-Based Self-Healing Smart Materials
We investigated the healing of epoxy resins with embedded ethyl phenylacetate (EPA) solvent loaded capsules and shape memory alloy (SMA) wires under fatigue loading in tapered double cantilever beam (TDCB) mode. Under cyclic loading, the kinetics of solvent diffusion are in competition with the rate of damage propagation. We showed that the active mechanism of self-healing under continuous loading is different from that in quasi-static testing. Crack arrest was observed after some initial crack growth, resulting from the diffusion of EPA solvent into the crack tip, involving local plasticization of the epoxy. Finite element analysis confirmed that the lower modulus and higher elongation at break of the solvated epoxy reduced the stresses at the crack tip. This effect combined with the well-studied microcapsule toughening effect, tremendously increased the toughness of plain epoxy. For epoxy with embedded SMA wires, completely fractured samples, healed using SMA activation, showed similar fatigue resistance as virgin samples. Furthermore, SMA activation during a 10 min break also stabilized crack progression, compared to at least 2 h needed to reach the same effect without SMA wires.