We investigate the hydrothermal stability of cross-linked liquid silicone rubber (LSR) in water at 100 °C up to period of two years. Optical microscopy of cross-sections of the exposed samples reveal that only the outer 100 μm of the surface layer is affected after two years. However, the surface chemistry of the material after prolonged exposure becomes significantly modified, as monitored by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and attenuated total reflectance Fourier transform infrared (ATR-FTIR), which probes depths of 10 nm and 1 μm, respectively. In addition, changes to the bulk physical properties of the rubber samples, prior to and after the exposure, were investigated by thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). Micro-hardness analysis showed that surface roughness of the two year exposed sample increased from 60 (IRHD) to 75 (IRHD). Furthermore, the volume change (%) measurement showed a significant decrease in the course of exposure at prolonged time. The results provide the experimental basis for development of LSR materials suitable for numerous technical applications.
Polymer Degradation and Stability, Vol. 90, no. 3 (Dec 2005), pp. 471-480