Some new heterocyclic thermosets
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The original aim of this project was to investigate the possibility of synthesising a novel polymer system combining the best features of cyanate ester resins and epoxy resins. Chapter 1 presents the historical background for both types of resin. The remaining three chapters describe attempts to achieve this aim by a) finding a cyanate ester that cures at a lower temperature than those in current commercial use (Chapter 2); b) using mixed epoxy and cyanate ester resins (Chapter 3); and c) designing chemically completely novel polymers from knowledge of the existing ones (Chapter 4). In Chapter 2 it was revealed that different cyanate esters cure at different temperatures, but that no obvious correlation exists between curing temperature and either steric or electronic effects of the ring substituents. The mixing of two dicyanate esters, one of which cures at a lower temperature than the other, leads to some reduction in the overall curing temperature required, but not sufficient to warrant further study at this stage. In Chapter 3 the usefulness of a previously proposed co-reaction between cyanate esters and epoxides was examined. Previous work in this area is full of inconsistencies that put many of the proposed conclusions in doubt. Further examination of the alleged co-reaction reveals that any such co-reaction is unpredictable, can vary significantly with reaction conditions and is in any case a minor reaction pathway by comparison with the self-reactions of the two individual reactants. It was therefore decided that further pursuit of this strategy was also likely to prove unrewarding in the short term. In Chapter 4 a study was made into the effects of including novel monomers in a standard epoxy resin system. These novel monomers had a cyanurate backbone with epoxide functionality, and can be cured at the lower temperatures of epoxy resins. Tests on the properties (mechanical, dielectric, water absorption, fracture toughness etc.) of these polymers were of a preliminary "scouting" nature, but are sufficiently promising to encourage further study.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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