We report a novel approach to prepare nanostructured thermosets using block ionomer complexes. Neither block copolymer polystyrene-block-poly(ethylene-ran- butylene)-block-polystyrene (SEBS) nor block ionomer sulfonated SEBS (SSEBS) is miscible with diglycidyl ether of bisphenol A (DGEBA) type epoxy resin. It is thus surprising that the block ionomer complex of SSEBS with a tertiary amine-terminated poly(3-caprolactone) (PCL), denoted as SSEBS-c-PCL, can be used to prepare nanostructured epoxy thermosets. The block ionomer complex SSEBS-c-PCL is synthesized via neutralization of SSEBS with 3-dimethylamino- propylamine-terminated PCL. Sulfonation of SEBS yields the block ionomer SSEBS which is immiscible with epoxy. But the block ionomer complex SSEBS-c-PCL can be easily mixed with DGEBA. When the curing agent 4,4'-methylenedianiline (MDA) is added and the epoxy cures, the system retains the nanostructure. In cured epoxy thermosets containing up to 30 wt% SSEBS-c-PCL, the exclusion of the poly(ethylene-ran-butylene) (EB) phase forms spherical micro-domains surrounded by separated sulfonated polystyrene phase while the PCL side-chains of SSEBS-c-PCL are dissolved in the cured epoxy matrix. The spherical micro-domains are highly aggregated in the epoxy thermosets containing 40 and 50 wt% SSEBS-c-PCL. The existence of epoxy-miscible PCL side-chains in the block ionomer complex SSEBS-c-PCL avoids macro-phase separation. Hence, the block ionomer complex can act as an efficient modifier to achieve nanostructured epoxy thermosets.
Field of Research
091209 Polymers and Plastics 091202 Composite and Hybrid Materials 030304 Physical Chemistry of Materials