Time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS) was used to investigate correlations between the molecular changes and postcuring reaction on the surface of a diglycidyl ether of bisphenol A and diglycidyl ether of bisphenol F based epoxy resin cured with two different amine-based hardeners. The aim of this work was to present a proof of concept that ToF-SIMS has the ability to provide information regarding the reaction steps, path, and mechanism for organic reactions in general and for epoxy resin curing and postcuring reactions in particular. Contact-angle measurements were taken for the cured and postcured epoxy resins to correlate changes in the surface energy with the molecular structure of the surface. Principal components analysis (PCA) of the ToF-SIMS positive spectra explained the variance in the molecular information, which was related to the resin curing and postcuring reactions with different hardeners and to the surface energy values. The first principal component captured information related to the chemical phenomena of the curing reaction path, branching, and network density based on changes in the relative ion density of the aliphatic hydrocarbon and the C7H7O+ positive ions. The second principal component captured information related to the difference in the surface energy, which was correlated to the difference in the relative intensity of the CxHyNz+ ions of the samples. PCA of the negative spectra provided insight into the extent of consumption of the hardener molecules in the curing and postcuring reactions of both systems based on the relative ion intensity of the nitrogen-containing negative ions and showed molecular correlations with the sample surface energy. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci, 2009
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