Brazilian Journal of Physics, 2017, vol 47, 1, pp. 19-25
The nanostructure of urethane/urea elastomeric membranes was investigated by small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) in order to establish relationships between their structure and mechanical properties. The networks were made up of polypropylene oxide (PPO) and polybutadiene (PB) segments. The structural differences were investigated in two types of membranes with the same composition but with different thermal treatment after casting. Type I was cured at 70–80 °C and type II at 20 °C. Both membranes showed similar phase separation by TEM, with nanodomains rich in PB or PPO and 25 nm dimensions. The main difference between type I and type II membranes was found by SAXS. The type I membrane spectra showed, besides a broad band at a 27-nm q value (modulus of the scattering vector), an extra band at 6 nm, which was not observed in the type II membrane. The SAXS spectra were interpreted in terms of PPO, PB soft segments, and urethane/urea links, as well as hard moiety segregation in the reaction medium. This additional segregation (q = 7 nm), although subtle, results in diverse mechanical behavior of in both membranes.