Native Rubber (Hevea brasiliensis) was for many decades the only known substance which exhibited typical “rubber elasticity” that is a long range (up to 1500%), low modulus (around 106 dynes per cm2) reversible extensibility. This exceptional mechanical behavior was, therefore, for a long time considered to be a consequence of the special chemical structure of native rubber, which was recognized to be a polymer of isoprene (52, 53, 86). Since then many other substances were discovered, which show to a higher or lesser degree all typical features of rubber elasticity, although they have widely different chemical compositions. Polymeric hydrocarbons, alcohols, esters, amides, chlorohydrocarbons, fluorocarbons and silicones, they all have rubbery representatives, and the only common and necessary feature appears to be that the material is built up by linear flexible macromolecules. Together with the synthesis of many new elastomers there went during the last twenty years a systematic quantitative study of the thermal and mechanical properties of these materials under various conditions which led to the conviction that “rubberiness” is not connected with any special chemical composition but much rather is characteristic for a special state of matter, which exhibits its startling properties over a certain range of the experimental variables such as temperature, stress, strain and time. This new concept poses for the phenomenological description and the molecular interpretation of rubber elasticity a number of interesting problems, the present state of which shall be briefly reviewed in this article. These current problems of rubber elastic behavior can be listed as follows:
  • Qualitative understanding of the principles of rubberiness.

  • Information on the structural details, the average molecule weight and weight distribution of macromolecules which form elastomers.

  • Quantitative data characterizing the three-dimensional networks built up by these macromolecules through crosslinkings in the bulk phase.

  • Statistical thermodynamics of rubber elasticity.

  • We shall now proceed to discuss these points in some detail.


Natural Rubber Intrinsic Viscosity Butyl Rubber Number Average Molecular Weight Rubber Elasticity 
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© Springer-Verlag Wien 1953

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Mark
    • 1
  1. 1.BrooklynUSA

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