The effect of aggregation on the electrical conductivity of spin-coated polymer/carbon nanotube composite films

Ronald H. Schmidt, Ian A. Kinloch, Andrew N. Burgess, Alan H. Windle

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    This paper considers the feasibility of replacing indium tin oxide (ITO) with spin-coated, polymer-based composite films that are filled with multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWNTs). The coating mixture consists of a solvent with low volatility, a dissolved thermoplastic polymer, and MWNTs. The high aspect ratio of MWNTs and their good electrical conductivity enable electrical percolation at very low concentrations, so that films can be prepared that conduct electricity while retaining good optical transparency. Although the MWNTs are driven to aggregate by Van der Waals interactions, the high viscosity of the polymer/solvent solution enables the preparation of metastable, homogeneous dispersions. However, exposing the mixtures to shear leads to aggregation, the magnitude of which depends on the duration of the shear. This effect could be observed directly in spin-coated films using both optical microscopy and conductivity measurements, with aggregation causing a drop in conductivity at high nanotube loading, and more complex non-monotonic behavior at concentrations approaching the percolation threshold. © 2007 American Chemical Society.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)5707-5712
    Number of pages5
    JournalLangmuir
    Volume23
    Issue number10
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 8 May 2007

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