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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 26, 2024
  2. Weak cross-linkers can improve the ultimate strength and tear resistance of polymer networks. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 23, 2024
  3. Slide-ring gels are polymer networks with cross-links that can slide along the chains. In contrast to conventional unentangled networks with cross-links fixed along the chains, the slide-ring networks are strain-softening and distribute tension much more uniformly between their strands due to the so-called “pulley effect”. The sliding of cross-links also reduces the elastic modulus in comparison with the modulus of conventional networks with the same number density of cross-links and elastic strands. We develop a single-chain model to account for the redistribution of monomers between network strands of a primary chain. This model takes into account both the pulley effect and fluctuations in the number of monomers per network strand. The pulley effect leads to modulus reduction and uniform tension redistribution between network strands, while fluctuations in the number of strand monomers dominate the strain-softening, the magnitude of which decreases upon network swelling and increases upon deswelling. 
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