- August 2011
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- In this work ternary composites based on an epoxy thermoset modified with a thermoplastic polymer and reinforced with glass fibers were prepared. The aim of this study is to analyze the influence of the molecular weight of the thermoplastic polymer on the final morphologies. To obtain tailor made interphases four poly(methylmethacrylate), PMMA, which differ in their molecular weight (34,000, 65,000, 76,000 and 360,000 g/mol) were chosen to modify the epoxy resin. The amount of PMMA in the composites was fixed to 5 wt.%. Neat polymer matrices (epoxy-PMMA without fibers) were also prepared for comparison. To study all systems dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA), atomic force microscopy (AFM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) were used. Although all the systems showed the typical phase separation in the epoxy/PMMA blend, DMA experiments revealed a new phase with more restricted mobility when the glass fibers are present. The amount of this phase increases as molecular weight of PMMA does. The morphologies as well as the fracture surface in the immediate surroundings of the fibers were found to be different from those observed further away from the surface of the fiber, suggesting therefore that, in this case, different fracture mechanism operates. These observations allow us to conclude that an interphase with specific properties is formed. This interphase is based on a polymer or a polymer blend (epoxy-PMMA) enriched in the component with lower mobility.