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Sepiolite-reinforced epoxy nanocomposites: Thermal, mechanical, and morphological behavior



A bisphenol A-based epoxy resin was modified with pristine sepiolite and an organically surface-modified sepiolite and thermally cured using two different curing agents: an aliphatic and a cycloaromatic diamine. The nanocomposites were characterized by dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA), rheology, thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), and electron microscopy. The initial sepiolite–epoxy mixtures show a better dispersion for the sepiolite-modified system that forms a percolation network structure. Mechanical properties have also been determined. The flexural modulus of the epoxy matrix slightly increases by the incorporation of the organophilic sepiolite. The flexural strength of the sepiolite-modified resin cured with the aliphatic diamine increased by 10%, while the sepiolite-modified resin cured with the cycloaromatic diamine resulted in a lower flexural strength, as compared with the unmodified resin. Electron micrographs revealed a better nanodispersion of the sepiolite in the epoxy matrix for the organophilic modified sepiolite nanocomposite. The initial thermal decomposition temperature did not change significantly with the addition of sepiolite, whereas mechanical properties were affected. The reduced flexural strength was attributed to the stress concentrations caused by the sepiolite modifier. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci, 2011