It is increasingly appreciated that water is one of the most important factors in the durability behavior of coatings. The rate of water transportation and the degree of saturation of polymeric coatings depends on exposure history, exposure environment, and the nature of a coating. The focus here is on the time taken for transport of water and the variation it causes in thermal and mechanical properties, which have also been shown previously to have time-dependence that leads to discrepancies between different weathering regimes. This paper studied the effect of moisture on coatings' mechanical properties and the effect of moisture and temperature on recovery of surface indentation. The reduction of mechanical properties and the increasing rate of surface defect relaxation can be explained in terms of plasticization by water. Recovery of surface defects is related to the appearance and diffusion activity of coatings during exposure. Thermogravimetric analysis showed that the content of moisture in the sample is determined by the ambient humidity, temperature, and the rate of change in these environmental parameters. Diffusion coefficients were determined from the weight change data and an activation energy was obtained via Arrhenius equation. Changes in yellowness, as an example, and signature of chemical degradation, indicated that the cycling period in accelerated weathering may affect the degradation via the amount and distribution of moisture in coatings. Diffusion of moisture is typically slow and limits the possibility of complete drying or saturation in an exposure cycle. Results from the cumulative effect of many cycles will be different depending on the conditions.
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Acknowledgment This work was supported by funding from US Air Force Office of Scientific Research and Army Research Laboratory.
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- Accelerated weathering
- Defect recovery
- Diffusion coefficient
- Moisture/water transport
- Temperature cycling