Skip to main content

Thermally Induced Structural Transitions in Epoxy Thermoset Polymer Networks and Their Spectroscopic Responses...

Publication Type
Journal Name
ACS Applied Polymer Materials
Publication Date
Page Numbers
5961 to 5971

The polymer network structure of epoxy thermosets plays a significant role in its final material properties. However, the effects of mild thermal exposure on these network structures are poorly studied. In this work, wide-angle X-ray scattering was used to investigate the polymer network structure of two epoxy thermosets: homopolymerized bisphenol A (BPA) epoxy resin and BPA epoxy resin cured with a polyether amine hardener (BPA/T-403). Using density functional theory and wide-angle X-ray scattering, insights into the polymer network structure were obtained. Diffraction features were determined to originate from hardener-to-hardener molecular distance, perpendicular π–π stacking of aromatic p-phenylene rings, and the average carbon–carbon distance in the polymer. Thermal exposure was found to permanently alter these structural features for both thermosets, with an increase in the π–π stacking distance. Homopolymerized BPA had an additional decrease in the hardener-to-hardener distance. These structural alterations were found to be detectable using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and Raman spectroscopy, with changes in the hardener-to-hardener distance having the largest variations in the resulting spectra specifically at the aromatic and ether frequencies.