Predicting the Effect of Hardener Composition on the Mechanical and Fracture Properties of Epoxy Resins Using Molecular Modeling

Subhadeep Pal, Kerim Dansuk, Andrea Giuntoli, Timothy W. Sirk, Sinan Keten*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Improving the toughness of brittle epoxy while keeping its high strength-to-weight ratio is challenging, as these two properties work against each other. Fracture processes are difficult to ascertain with experiments, as they occur at nanoscopic lengths and time scales and require higher efficiency than what can be attained with atomistic simulations. To overcome this challenge, we utilize a recently developed chemistry specific coarse-grained model to examine two different hardeners, diamine 4,4′-methylenebis(cyclohexylamine) (PACM) and propylene oxide diamine (Jeffamine), to cure bisphenol A diglycidyl ether (DGEBA) at varying stoichiometries and understand how hardener composition influences the elasticity, yield strength, and fracture toughness of epoxy resins. The results indicate that PACM mainly contributes to the modulus and that long Jeffamine chains increase fracture toughness by making the epoxy ductile, whereas short Jeffamine chains significantly improve the yield strength. Longer Jeffamines also lead to larger voids and the formation of fibrils that carry a significant amount of stress and contribute to toughness. Interestingly, the Ashby plots reveal that epoxies with intermediate-length Jeffamine chains (D800 and D2000) outperform other systems, as the toughness enhancement from flexible Jeffamine chains and the stiffness due to PACM help to overcome the strength-toughness trade-off. Our modeling framework and findings establish a path toward resin design from predictive multiscale models with no empirical input and reveal new insights into the molecular failure mechanisms of epoxy resins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4447-4456
Number of pages10
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 27 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry


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