Journal of Materials Science

, Volume 37, Issue 4, pp 781–788 | Cite as

Toughening of a brittle thermosetting polymer: Effects of reinforcement particle size and volume fraction

  • R. P. SinghEmail author
  • M. Zhang
  • D. Chan


Micron- and nanometer-sized aluminum particles were used as reinforcements to enhance the fracture toughness of a highly-crosslinked, nominally brittle, thermosetting unsaturated polyester resin. Both particle size and particle volume fraction were systematically varied to investigate their effects on the fracture behavior and the fracture toughness. It was observed that, in general, the overall fracture toughness increased monotonically with the volume fraction of aluminum particles, for a given particle size, provided particle dispersion and deagglomeration was maintained. The fracture toughness of the composite was also strongly influenced by the size of the reinforcement particles. Smaller particles led to a greater increase in fracture toughness for a given particle volume fraction. Scanning electron microscopy of the fracture surfaces was employed to establish crack front trapping as the primary extrinsic toughening mechanism. Finally, the effects of particle volume fraction and size on the tensile properties of the polyester-aluminum composite were also investigated. The measured elastic modulus was in accordance with the rule-of-mixtures. Meanwhile, the tensile strength was slightly reduced upon the inclusion of aluminum particles in the polyester matrix.


Particle Size Tensile Strength Brittle Elastic Modulus Fracture Surface 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    J. N. SULTAN and F. J. MCGARRY, Polymer Engineering and Science 13 (1973) 29.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    T. T. WANG and H. M. J. ZUPKO, J. Appl. Polym. Sci. 26 (1981) 2391.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    A. J. KINLOCH, S. J. SHAW, D. A. TOD and D. L. HUNSTON, Polymer 24 (1983) 1341.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    G. A. CROSBIE and M. G. PHILLIPS, J. Mater. Sci. 20 (1985) 182.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    A. F. YEE and R. A. PEARSON, ibid. 21 (1986) 2462.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    J. S. ULLETT and R. P. CHARTOFF, Polymer Engineering and Science 35 (1995) 1086.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    R. A. PEARSON and A. F. YEE, J. Mater. Sci. 24 (1989) 2571.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    J. F. HWANG, J. A. MANSON, R. W. HERTZBERG, G. A. MILLER and L. H. SPERLING, Polymer Engineering Science 29 (1989) 1466.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    C. B. BUCKNALL and I. K. PARTRIDGE, Polymer 24 (1983) 639.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    A. J. KINLOCH, M. L. YUEN and S. D. JENKINS, J. Mater. Sci. 29 (1994) 3781.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    J. H. HODGKIN, G. P. SIMON and R. J. VARLEY, Polymers For Advanced Technologies 9 (1998) 3.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    R. A. PEARSON,Advances in Chemistry Series Vol. 233 (1993) 405.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    J. SPANOUDAKIS and R. J. YOUNG, J. Mater. Sci. 19 (1984) 473.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    A. MOLONEY, H. H. KAUSCH and H. R. STIEGER, ibid. 19 (1984) 1125.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    M. HUSSAIN, A. NAKAHIRA, S. NISHIJIMA and K. NIIHARA, Materials Letters 27 (1996) 21.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    A. G. EVANS, S. WILLIAMS and P. W. R. BEAUMONT, J. Mater. Sci. 20 (1985) 3668.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    H. GLEITER, Acta Materialia 48 (2000) 1.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    B. M. NOVAK, Advanced Materials 5 (1993) 422.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    J. E. MARK, Polymer Engineering and Science 36 (1996) 2905.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    A. OKADA, M. KAWASUMI, T. KURAUCHI and O. KAMIGAITO, Abstracts of Papers of The American Chemical Society 194 (1987).Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    E. P. GIANNELIS, Applied Organometallic Chemistry 12(1011) (1998) 675.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    P. C. LEBARON, Z. WANG and T. J. PINNAVAIA, Applied Clay Science 15(12) (1999) 11.Google Scholar
  23. 24.
    American Society of Testing and Materials, “Standard Test Methods for Plane-Strain Fracture Toughness and Strain Energy Release Rate of Plastic Materials,” Annual Book of ASTM Standards, Designation D5045-99, 1999.Google Scholar
  24. 25.
    T. L. ANDERSON, “Fracture Mechanics: Fundamentals and Applications” (CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, 1991).Google Scholar
  25. 26.
    J. E. SRAWLEY, International Journal of Fracture 12 (1976) 475.Google Scholar
  26. 27.
    F. F. LANGE, Phil. Magazine 22 (1970) 983. Received 16 January and accepted 28 August 2001 788Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mechanics of Advanced Materials Laboratory, Department of Mechanical EngineeringState University of New YorkStony BrookUSA

Personalised recommendations