In the preparation of PDMS elastomers, a combination of mixing and reactive processes constrains the applicability of the PDMS elastomer in research and applications. Separation of the mixing and reactive processes, which control PDMS crosslinking, has been achieved by encapsulating a hydride crosslinker in a PMMA shell. Microcapsules are mixed with vinyl-terminated PDMS to create a gelation system, which allows for storage at 50 °C, without premature gelation, and in addition allows for extensive crosslinking reaction at 120 °C. Both visual observations and rheological studies show that a robust PDMS elastomer is obtained upon heating the gelation system. Furthermore, the influence of stoichiometric imbalance on the equilibrium storage modulus of the PDMS network is investigated, by employing different amounts of microcapsules in vinyl-terminated PDMS. It has been found that adding microcapsules increases the equilibrium storage modulus of the PDMS elastomer until the diffusion of the hydride crosslinker is constricted. An optimum amount of crosslinker used in the control crosslinking reaction has also been found. However, compared to the pure PDMS elastomer, the modulus of the PDMS elastomer from the encapsulated system is less sensitive in relation to the stoichiometry of the system than the corresponding polymer network. This broadens the applicability range of silicone elastomers.
R S C Advances, 2014, Vol 4, Issue 88, p. 47505-47512