The role of inclusion size in toughening of epoxy resins by spherical micelles

Yonathan S. Thio, W. U. Junxian, Frank S. Bates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


We report our finding of an optimal length scale for toughening of epoxies using spherical micelles formed by block copolymers. The amphiphilic diblock copolymer poly(hexylene oxide)-poly(ethylene oxide) (PHO-PEO) with 30 wt % PEO selfassembled to form spherical micelles in a bisphenol A epoxy resin with a phenol novolac hardener. We systematically increased the size of the spherical micelles from 20-30 nm to 0.5-10 m by swelling their PHO core using PHO homopolymer. Although all the blends were tougher than the unmodified epoxy, the largest enhancement of fracture resistance was measured in blends containing 0.1-1 ¡ spherical inclusions. This enhanced toughness was correlated with plastic deformation by shear banding in tensile test and greater roughness of the fracture surface. Smaller micelles neither induced plastic deformation nor contributed to surface roughness significantly whereas larger micelles acted as local defects resulting in early failure. These findings provide a framework in assessing the toughening effects of blended block copolymers on epoxy resins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1125-1129
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Polymer Science, Part B: Polymer Physics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2009


  • Block copolymers
  • Epoxy resins
  • Toughness


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