The photopolymerization kinetics of two commercial vinyl ester resins (VERs) and a model VER photoinitiated by the camphorquinone/amine photoinitiator system were monitored using isothermal DSC. A decrease in styrene concentration in model VERs was found to raise the rate of photopolymerization. In contrast, when the styrene was replaced by a monomethacrylate diluent, the photopolymerization rate passed through a maximum near 70 wt% diluent monomer. This difference in the variation of the rate of polymerization with decreased monomer concentration was attributed to the competition of the effects of the higher reactivity of the methacrylyl radical relative to the styryl radical and the lower termination rate for divinyl-rich systems (both of which tend to raise the maximum polymerization rate) and the effects of the reduction in the initiation efficiency and decrease in kp due to increased fraction of pendant double bonds (which lower the polymerization rate) when the concentration of diluent monomer was reduced. Subsequent dark polymerization was observed during a temperature ramp and the onset of polymerization was independent of resin composition due to vitrification effects during the isothermal photocuring stage. The kinetics during the dark polymerization stage was discussed in terms of the radical concentration and the propagation rate constant. Increases in the concentration of either diluent monomer raised the extent of isothermal cure during the isothermal polymerization because vitrification was delayed by the lower crosslink density and the plasticizing effect of the diluent. Higher levels of diluent also raised the maximally attainable conversion due to reduced topological restrictions for reaction in networks of lower crosslink density.
Scott, T. F., Cook, W. D., & Forsythe, J. S. (2003). Photo-DSC cure kinetics of vinyl ester resins II: Influence of diluent concentration. Polymer, 44(3), 671-680. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0032-3861(02)00788-7