Innovative epoxy-titania nanocomposites were prepared starting from titania nanoparticles suspended in benzyl alcohol (BzOH) generated by nonhydrolytic sol–gel process from TiCl4. The obtained suspensions were mixed with an epoxy resin (bisphenol A diglycidyl ether, DGEBA) and the formulations were cured in the presence of ytterbium(III) trifluoromethanesulfonate as cationic initiator. The thermally activated cationic ring-opening polymerization produced a three-dimensional network in which the suspending medium BzOH was covalently linked to the epoxy network according to the “activated monomer” mechanism during the propagation step. The presence of titania nanoparticles resulted in a reinforcing and stiffening effect due to both their hydrodynamic effect and, most important, a significantly higher cross-linking density of the composite material with respect to the unfilled epoxy resin.
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