The Role of the Interface in Polymer Composites — Some Myths, Mechanisms, and Modifications
A considerable effort has been made over the past 20 years to understand the reinforcement-matrix interface, to control it, and even to specifically modify it. It is at the interface where stress concentrations develop because of differences between thermal expansion coefficients of the reinforcement and matrix phases, because of loads applied to the structure, and because of cure shrinkage (in thermosetting matrices) and crystallization (in some thermoplastic matrices). The interface can also serve as a nucleation site, a preferential adsorption site, and a locus of chemical reaction. This paper attempts to clarify some common misconceptions regarding the effects of interfacial adhesion on mechanical properties including stiffness and toughness, the presence of covalent bonding of silanes to glass fibers, and the characterization of thermal stability of a polymeric composite. Two specific approaches to interface modification are also discussed, one for thermoplastic matrices and one for thermosetting matrices.
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