Viscoelastic properties and residual stresses in polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxane-reinforced epoxy matrices



Fiber-filled thermosetting polymer composites are extensively used in aerospace industries. One disadvantage of these materials is cure induced or thermally induced residual stresses in the matrix, which may result in deteriorated performance and premature failure. This article explores the use of epoxy/multifunctional polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxane (POSS) nanocomposites as resins with reduced thermal stress coefficients that result in mitigated residual stresses. The effect of POSS loading on the thermal stress coefficient of the epoxy/POSS nanocomposite resins was investigated from below the β-relaxation to the α-relaxation, or glass transition temperature, (i.e., from −100 to 180 °C) by measuring the shear modulus and linear thermal expansion coefficient. The thermal stress coefficient of the epoxy/POSS nanocomposites is found to be a strong function of temperature, decreasing rapidly with decreasing temperature through the α-relaxation region, increasing in the vicinity of the β-relaxation, and then decreasing below the temperature associated with the peak in the β-relaxation. With increasing POSS content, the thermal stress coefficient is reduced compared with the neat resin in the vicinity of the α-relaxation; however, the thermal stress coefficient increases with increasing POSS content below the temperature of the β-relaxation peak. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Polym Sci Part B: Polym Phys 46: 2719–2732, 2008