Mechanical properties and inhomogeneous nanostructures of dicyandiamide-cured epoxy resins



Dicyandiamide (DICY)-cured epoxy resins are important materials for structural adhesives and matrix resins for fiber reinforced prepregs. The objective of this study was to examine the mechanical and physical properties as well as the gel structures of the cured resins and discuss the relationships among them. Diglycidyl ether of bisphenol-A (DGEBA) oligomers were chosen as the common chemical structure of the epoxy resins. Four kinds of resin mixtures were formulated using the seven types of DGEBA oligomers having different molecular weight distributions. Three resin formulations having bimodal-type molecular weight distributions were designed to have almost identical rubbery plateau values of the storage modulus in dynamic mechanical analyses after curing, means that they had almost equivalent average crosslink density and basic chemical structure. However, the toughness, ductility, and environmental (heat and solvent) resistance of these three formulations were different. Atomic force microscopy revealed the existence of inhomogeneous nanoscale gel structures in these cured resins. The morphological differences in the gel structures in terms of their size, the connectivity, and the relative magnitude of the heterogeneity would cause the difference in several properties of the DICY-cured epoxy resins. © 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Polym Sci Part B: Polym Phys 45: 1425–1434, 2007