Plasma surface modification of advanced organic fibres: Part V Effects on the mechanical properties of aramid/phenolic composites

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Aramid fibres have been treated in ammonia and oxygen plasma to enhance adhesion to resole phenolic resins. The plasma treatments resulted in significant improvements in interlaminar shear strength (ILSS) and flexural strength of composites made from these materials. Composites containing aramid fibres with epoxide groups reacted on to the ammonia plasma-treated fibre surface also showed further improvements in ILSS and flexural strength. Scanning electron and optical microscopic observations were used to examine the microscopic basis for these results, which have been compared with those obtained previously for aramid/epoxy and aramid/vinyl ester composites. For composites containing oxygen and ammonia plasma-treated fibres, the enhanced ILSS and flexural strength are attributed to improved wetting of the surface-treated aramid fibres by the phenolic resin. However, for those containing fibres with reacted epoxide groups on the ammonia plasma-treated fibre surfaces, the enhanced composite properties may be due to covalent chemical interfacial bonding between the epoxide groups and the phenolic resin. Effects of catalyst levels and cure cycle on the ILSS of composites laminated with untreated fabric has also been examined and optimum values have been determined. The catalyst concentration has an influence on the phase-separated water domain density in the matrix which in turn, affects the available fibre/matrix bonding area and hence the composite ILSS and flexural strength.

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