Blends of thermoset polymers offer an avenue to combine the mechanical properties of complementary high glass transition temperature systems. An epoxy resin with high tensile strength and modulus, composed of the diglycidyl ether of bisphenol A cured with an anhydride, was combined with polydicyclopentadiene, cured via ring-opening metathesis polymerization, to improve the toughness. An amphiphilic block copolymer, poly(1,4-butadiene-b-ethylene oxide), where 1,4-polybutadiene has a strong affinity for polydicyclopentadiene and poly(ethylene oxide) has a strong affinity for the epoxy resin, was added to control phase separation and manipulate the morphology of the thermoset blend, analogous to compatibilization in thermoplastic blends. A systematic study of the influence of block copolymer loading and blend composition on the structural morphology was performed, using a combination of ultrasmall-angle X-ray scattering (USAXS), small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). As the block copolymer content was increased, the thermoset/thermoset blend morphology transitioned from a phase-separated surface fractal type morphology to finer dispersed spherical domains, until a critical particle size was reached at which blend mechanical properties were optimum. The resultant mechanical properties for select compatibilized blends showed a strong positive influence of the morphology on the fracture properties while maintaining the well-behaved tensile properties observed in the uncompatibilized system.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Organic Chemistry
- Polymers and Plastics
- Inorganic Chemistry
- Materials Chemistry