A molecular dynamics investigation on the cross-linking and physical properties of epoxy-based materials

LH Tam and D Lau, RSC ADVANCES, 4, 33074-33081 (2014).

DOI: 10.1039/c4ra04298k

Epoxy-based materials are extensively used in industry due to their excellent mechanical and thermal stability. As the epoxy products are getting smaller and smaller nowadays, there are difficulties arising from the material processing and measurement, which need to be carefully considered in the design stage. SU-8 photoresist, which is commonly used in micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS), is chosen as a representative of epoxy-based materials in this study. Here, we propose an effective dynamic cross-linking algorithm, which can be used to construct the SU-8 epoxy network with cross-linking degree higher than 80%. Using an equilibration process incorporating successive pressure controls, the density of the cross-linked structure can be accurately obtained. By performing the dynamic deformations in the molecular dynamics simulations, elastic properties of the equilibrated SU-8 photoresist can be determined, which are in good agreement with the experimental measurements. The good predictions of the physical properties demonstrate a strong mechanical stability of the SU-8 structure at the nano-scale. The dynamic cross-linking algorithm described in the present study can be applied in other polymeric material investigations involving the cross-linked network model through homopolymerization.

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