Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Materials Science and Engineering (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Materials Science and Engineering


Gregory M Odegard


EPON 862 is an epoxy resin which is cured with the hardening agent DETDA to form a crosslinked epoxy polymer and is used as a component in modern aircraft structures. These crosslinked polymers are often exposed to prolonged periods of temperatures below glass transition range which cause physical aging to occur. Because physical aging can compromise the performance of epoxies and their composites and because experimental techniques cannot provide all of the necessary physical insight that is needed to fully understand physical aging, efficient computational approaches to predict the effects of physical aging on thermo-mechanical properties are needed. In this study, Molecular Dynamics and Molecular Minimization simulations are being used to establish well-equilibrated, validated molecular models of the EPON 862-DETDA epoxy system with a range of crosslink densities using a united-atom force field. These simulations are subsequently used to predict the glass transition temperature, thermal expansion coefficients, and elastic properties of each of the crosslinked systems for validation of the modeling techniques. The results indicate that glass transition temperature and elastic properties increase with increasing levels of crosslink density and the thermal expansion coefficient decreases with crosslink density, both above and below the glass transition temperature. The results also indicate that there may be an upper limit to crosslink density that can be realistically achieved in epoxy systems. After evaluation of the thermo-mechanical properties, a method is developed to efficiently establish molecular models of epoxy resins that represent the corresponding real molecular structure at specific aging times. Although this approach does not model the physical aging process, it is useful in establishing a molecular model that resembles the physically-aged state for further use in predicting thermo-mechanical properties as a function of aging time. An equation has been predicted based on the results which directly correlate aging time to aged volume of the molecular model. This equation can be helpful for modelers who want to study properties of epoxy resins at different levels of aging but have little information about volume shrinkage occurring during physical aging.