A novel set of dual-curable multiacetoacetate-multiacrylate-divinyl sulfone ternary materials with versatile and manipulable properties are presented. In contrast to common dual-curing systems, the first stage polymer herein consists of a densely crosslinked, high Tg
network as a result of base-catalyzed multiacetoacetate-divinyl sulfone Michael addition. A more flexible secondary network forms after base-catalyzed Michael addition of remaining multiacetoacetate to multiacrylate. Curing is truly sequential as the rates of the two Michael additions are significantly different. Curing kinetics were analyzed using differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR). The materials at each curing stage were characterized using dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA) and SEM. Although some phase separation was observed in certain formulations, the incompatibilities were minimized when the molar percentage of the acetoacetate-divinyl sulfone polymer network was above 75%. Furthermore, the environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM) images of these materials show that the more flexible acetoacetate-acrylate phase is dispersed in the form of polymeric spheres within the rigid acetoacetate-divinyl sulfone matrix. This unique dual microstructure can potentially render these materials highly resilient in applications requiring densely crosslinked polymer architectures with enhanced toughness.
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