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Property tailoring of phenol–formaldehyde matrices by control of reactant molar ratio and thermoplastic modification

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High modulus, strength and thermal stability make phenol–formaldehyde resins (PFRs) interesting as matrices for nanocomposites. Four PFR matrices synthesized with different formaldehyde (F) to phenol (P) molar ratios were investigated, as well as the influence of thermoplastic modification on their mechanical properties. The effectiveness of a specific curing cycle for obtaining macrovoid‐ and microvoid‐free specimens by controlling the thickness of samples is demonstrated. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy results reveal that F content increases the presence of oxidized linkages as benzophenones and fully substituted aromatic structures. PFR matrices with highest F content present the highest values of main transition temperature and flexural modulus up to an F/P ratio of 1.8, revealing the achievement of a densely crosslinked and rigid structure. A selected PFR matrix was modified with 5, 10 and 15 wt% of two poly(vinyl butyral) (PVB) thermoplastics of differing molecular weight. Phase separation occurs before gelation in all cases leading to different morphologies, observed using atomic force microscopy and optical microscopy, depending on PVB content: PVB‐rich particles in PFR‐rich matrix for 5 wt% and co‐continuous dual morphology for 10 and 15 wt% for both PVBs. Strength improvement is achieved for PFR matrices modified with 5 wt% of PVB associated with a tailored particulate morphology with a particle size of around 1.2 µm. Finally, 5 and 10 wt% PVB‐modified PFR materials exhibit a very high thermal stability with degradation temperatures very close to those for neat PFR matrix. Copyright © 2011 Society of Chemical Industry
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Keywords: mechanical properties; morphology; phase separation; phenolic resin; thermoplastic

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-05-01

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