This study demonstrated a method for toughening a highly crosslinked anhydride cured DGEBA epoxy using rubbery block copolymer grafted SiO2 nanoparticles. The particles were synthesized by a sequential reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) polymerization. The inner rubbery block poly(n-hexyl methacrylate) (PHMA) had a glass transition temperature below room temperature. The outer block poly(glycidyl methacrylate) (PGMA) was matrix compatible. A rubbery interlayer thickness of 100% and 200% of the particle core radius was achieved by grafting a 20 kg/mol and a 40 kg/mol PHMA at a graft density of 0.7 chains/nm2 from the SiO2 surface. The 20 kg/mol rubbery interlayer transferred load more efficiently to the SiO2 cores than the 40 kg/mol rubbery interlayer and maintained the epoxy modulus up to a loading of 10 vol% of the rubbery interlayer. Both systems enabled cavitation or plastic dilatation. Improvement of the strain-to-break and the tensile toughness was found in both systems. We hypothesize that plastic void growth in the matrix is the primary mechanism causing the improvement of the ductility.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Published in Polymers, Volume 4, Issue 1, 2012, pages 187-210.
© Polymers 2012, the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license.
Gao, J., Li, J., Benicewicz, B., Zhao, S., Hillborg, H., & Schadler, L. (2012). The Mechanical Properties of Epoxy Composites Filled with Rubbery Copolymer Grafted SiO2. Polymers, 4(1), 187–210. https://doi.org/10.3390/polym4010187