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New amorphous polyaromatics for use as composite matrices

The overall aim of the project is to develop new, high performance composites based on amorphous thermoplastic precursors, with advantages over state of the art composites. New polymers for composites will be developed aimed at achieving, for example, advantage over semicrystalline polyaromatics in terms of prepreg costs, upper use temperature, quicker fabrication and easier bonding. Possible advantages over amorphous polyaromatics will be in areas of solvent resistance, creep and modulus beyond the glass transition temperature (Tg).

A variety of suitable chemical functionalities have been introduced either at the polymer chain ends or pendant to the chain of an amorphous high temperature performance thermoplastic. These functionalities are being used to introduce chemical crosslinks, or physical crosslinks through the incorporation of crystalline, grafted moieties or to achieve in situ chain extension of low molecular weight polymers through suitable and group chemistry. The impregnation of these polymers onto carbon fibre is now being studied and the effect of these chemical modifications on fibre/matrix interfaces established. Calibration of mechanical testing techniques has been achieved using chemically unmodified amorphous thermoplastic composites, and a semicrystalline composite.

The solution route to producing terminally functionalized low molecular weight polyethersulphone copolymers will be optimized on a laboratory scale. The exploitation of the chain extendable, crosslinkable and amorphous, or semicrystalline, block copolymers as economically viable composite matrices and, possibly, coatings and engineering polymers will then be possible. Further development of polymer synthesis and prepregger and resin formulator and scale up is also required.


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