The enhancement of properties of cured epoxy resins by the incorporation of modifiers into standard formulations is a subject that has received a great deal of attention over the last two decades. This paper presents an overview of the principles that have been explored to overcome the main deficiencies of epoxy resins, especially their brittleness, and reviews the scientific advances that have been made in this field. Particular attention is given to improvements in properties achieved by the addition of reactive oligomeric compounds, such as: (a) carboxyl and amino terminated butadiene-acrylonitrile, low molecular weight, statistical copolymers; (b) telechelic acrylate copolymers and terpolymers; (c) amine terminated polysiloxanes; and (d) chain extended carboxyl terminated perfluoro polyethers. The use of functionalised thermally stable high molecular weight polymers, both rubbery and glassy, is also examined and their efficiency in enhancing the toughness of difunctional and multifunctional epoxy resins is considered. The polymers considered in greater detail are based on aromatic polyethers and polysiloxane elastomers, respectively.
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