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Abstract

Physical annealing of a fully cured amine/epoxy system has been investigated using the freely oscillating TBA torsion pendulum technique. The material densifies spontaneously during annealing in an attempt to reach equilibrium, thereby changing material behavior. The dynamic mechanical behavior of a film specimen (Tg = 174°C, 0.3 Hz) and of a glass braid composite specimen (Tg = 182°C, 0.9 Hz) was monitored during isothermal annealing at sub-Tg temperatures (ranging to 230°C below Tg); after annealing, the behavior was measured vs. temperature and compared with that of the unannealed state. Isothermally, the storage modulus (G′) of the film specimen and the relative rigidity (1/P2) of the composite specimen increased almost linearly with log time, whereas the logarithmic decrement (Δ) decreased with time. The isothermal rates of annealing were determined from the rates of changes in G′ and in 1/P2 for the film and composite specimens, respectively. In a wide temperature range between Tg and the secondary transition temperature, Tsec (≈ −30°C, 2.3 Hz by TBA), the isothermal rates of annealing at the same annealing time appeared to be the same. Thermomechanical spectra of the isothermally annealed material revealed a maximum deviation in thermomechanical behavior from the unannealed material in the vicinity of the annealing temperature. The effects of physical aging were the same for the film and composite specimens. Effects of sequential annealing at two isothermal temperatures on the thermomechanical behavior were also investigated; when the second temperature was higher than the first, the effect of only the high-temperature annealing was evident, whereas the effect of annealing at both temperatures was revealed when the second temperature was lower than the first. Results suggest that physical annealing at different temperatures involves different length scales of chain segment relaxation and that the effects of isothermal aging can be eliminated by heating to below Tg.