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Novel in-situ techniques based on fluorescence sensing for monitoring the curing and ageing of adhesives and polymer matrix composites

Deliverables

Very different industrial sectors related to adhesives use, coatings and polymer matrix composite materials have a common strong need of in-situ non-destructive tools for monitoring curing and ageing phenomena. This is specially important for adhesive producers, for advanced polymer matrix composites designers and manufacturers and for companies whose core activities are market oriented R&D, consultancy, maintenance, testing and certification. Current in-situ methods whether are not available or of limited applicability; at the present time there are no alternatives different from fluorimetry suitable for sensing curing, post-curing and in-service phenomena with a single methodology. Application of molecular fluorescence to the curing and ageing monitoring of adhesives and polymer matrix composites and development of suitable fluorescent methodologies will result in a substantial cost reduction in R&D, maintenance programmes and a general improvement of component specifications. The single methodology which has been developed is based on the fluorescence of molecular probes or labels, physically or chemically inserted in the curing system. The technique can be used to monitor curing processes, to evaluate residual thermal stresses and to monitor ageing phenomena, including: water up-take, under-corrosion, photo-degradation and interfacial damage. It has been applied to epoxy, phenolic and polyurethane resins as well as to UV-photo-curable acrylic polymer systems.