Effects of plasma treatment on the adhesion of an epoxy composite
Abstract Improvements to adhesion between an epoxy composite material substrate and an epoxy structural adhesive can be obtained by plasma treatment of the former. However, quantitative evaluation of the strength increase is often difficult due to the rigidity of the systems. In this study, we consider a composite material (epoxy/carbon fibre), both untreated and treated by oxygen and nitrogen plasmas, adhering to an epoxy gel. The latter was chosen as a compromise since it has chemical similarities with structural epoxy resins yet inherent flexibility, allowing peel tests to be performed. After studying effects due to variation of contact time during cure (total cure time remained constant to ensure comparable mechanical properties), it was found that plasma-treated composite gave bettter adhesion under similar test conditions. A model has been tentatively suggested to explain the improvement by the formation of chemical bonds at the composite-epoxy gel interface. It is concluded that even if only 1% of atomic sites develop chemical bonds, adhesion is considerably increased.
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