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Polymerization of epoxy resins initiated by metal complexes

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BACKGROUND: Processing parameters and material properties of epoxy resins can be vastly influenced by choice of curing agent. In this work, metal complexes were investigated as initiators for anionic and cationic epoxide polymerization. Systems for thermally induced and electron beam‐induced curing are described.

RESULTS: Zinc or cobalt imidazole complexes of the type [M(imidazole)2(anion)2] are efficient initiators for anionic polymerization of glycidyl‐based epoxy resins. The complexes can be employed to prepare tailored resin systems ranging from fast curing systems at slightly elevated temperatures to systems with very high thermal latencies curable at temperatures far above 150 °C. Silver complexes [Ag(L) n ]SbF6 (L = crown ether or alkene) are highly efficient initiators for cationic curing and low initiator contents of around 1% are sufficient to reach high degrees of crosslinking. The complexes are excellent initiators for both thermally induced and electron beam‐induced polymerizations.

CONCLUSION: Metal complexes are powerful initiators for the homopolymerization of epoxy resins and can be designed not only for anionic and cationic polymerization but also for thermal and radiation curing. Based on this study and additional work, a library can be compiled which allows retrieval of optimized metal–ligand–anion combinations and adjustment of the initiators to the respective processing and material demands. Copyright © 2009 Society of Chemical Industry
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Keywords: anionic polymerization; cationic polymerization; electron beam curing; epoxy resins; metal complex initiators; radiation curing

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2009

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