Toughening of immiscible PPE/SAN blends by triblock terpolymers


The mechanical performance of immiscible blends of poly(2,6-dimethyl-1,4-phenylene ether) (PPE) and poly(styrene-co-acrylonitrile) (SAN) and the subsequent influence of compatibilisation by tailored polystyrene-block-polybutadiene-block-poly(methyl methacrylate) triblock terpolymers (SBM) on the mechanical performance under static and dynamic loads is analysed in detail. A PPE/SAN 60/40 blend was selected as a base system for the compatibilisation experiments. The observed static tensile behaviour is described by micromechanical models and correlated to the blend microstructures as observed by transmission electron microscopy. In most cases, the addition of the SBM triblock terpolymers further enhances the ductility of the blend while only leading to a minor reduction of modulus and strength. Triblock terpolymers with symmetric end blocks, mainly located at the interface between PPE and SAN, led to nearly isotropic specimens. In contrast, SBM materials with a longer polystyrene block predominantly formed micelles in the PPE phase and the blends revealed a highly anisotropic morphology. Comparative investigations of the fatigue crack growth behaviour parallel to the direction of injection also reflected this variation in mechanical anisotropy of the compatibilised blends. A poor toughness and a predominant interfacial failure were observed in the case of the SBM with a long polystyrene block. In contrast, a considerable improvement in properties as a result of pronounced plastic deformations was observed for blends compatibilised by triblock terpolymers with symmetric end blocks. The systematic correlation between morphology and mechanical performance of compatibilised PPE/SAN blends established in this study provides an efficient way for the desired selection of suitable and effective compatibilising agents, ensuring both a superior multiaxial toughness as well as a high strength and modulus of the overall system.
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