Nano-modified epoxy: the effect of GO-based complex structures on mechanical performance
The application of nanofillers (NFs) in multicomponent polymer systems is accompanied by important structure-directing effects that are more marked in partially miscible systems, such as polymer-modified epoxy. This study deals with rubber-modified epoxy using different combinations of GO and amine-terminated butadiene-acrylonitrile copolymer (ATBN), including in situ and pre-made grafting. Moreover, GO grafted via planar epoxy groups or solely edge-localized carboxyls was used. It is shown that the grafted ATBN chains promote the assembly of GO-g-ATBN into nacre-mimicking lamellar structures instead of usual exfoliation in thermoplastics. This complex structure of elastically embedded GO leads to the best mechanical performance. It is obvious that a small concentration of the grafted polymer exceeds the contribution of a higher concentration of separately added ATBN. The results highlight the important effect of the degree of grafted chains and geometry of the internal structure of the self-assembled arrays and their effect on the mechanical performance.