NetComposites
Airtech

Tweaking the Conductivity of Nanotube Composites

11 February 2008

New measurements by scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) show that the electrical properties of a composite can be tuned from being a conductor to a non-conductor simply by changing processing conditions..

Carbon nanotubes—sheets of graphite rolled up into nanoscale hollow cylinders—are under intense scrutiny for a wide range of materials applications. The NIST study* shows how the conductivity and dielectric properties of these mixtures depend on flow and how they change once flow has stopped. These property changes have relevance to the process design of these materials in a long list of potential applications for conducting plastics including transparent electrodes, antennas, electronic packaging, sensors, automotive paint, anti-static fuel hoses and aircraft components.

The NIST researchers augmented a standard instrument, a shear rheometer, normally used for viscosity measurements, to simultaneously measure conductivity and dielectric properties Using this “rheo-dielectric spectrometer,” they discovered that the conductivity of the nanocomposite dramatically decreases with increasing flow rate, effectively changing the material from a conductor to an insulator. This extraordinary sensitivity of the conductivity (and other properties) to flow is prevalent near a characteristic CNT concentration where an interpenetrating CNT network first forms. Surprisingly, once the flow is removed, they found that the nanocomposite reverts back to its original conductivity.

Based on these measurements, the NIST team proposed a theoretical model that successfully accounts for these dramatic effects. This model quantitatively predicts the observed conductor-insulator transition and is useful for optimizing and controlling the properties of these new polymer-nanotube composites.

* J. Obrzut, J.F. Douglas, S.B. Kharchenko and K. B. Migler. Shear-induced conductor-insulator transition in melt-mixed polypropylene-carbon nanotube dispersions. Physical Review B 76, 195420-2007. Nov. 15, 2007.





Share this story


Related / You might like...

Notus Composites to Supply 3D Fire Retardant Façade Panels for the Museum of the Future, Dubai

Notus Composites (UAE) will supply the fire retardant prepregs for the 3D façade panels of the Museum of the Future in Dubai.

Reinventing the Wheel Is Possible With Graphene Nanotubes

Do you enjoy a cross-country ride on your bike on the weekend? Wouldn’t you appreciate a bike with higher performance and with safer and longer lasting rims? And ideally not at a jaw-dropping price. Graphene in the form of graphene nanotubes has shown huge potential for enhancing the properties and reducing the weight of bicycle wheel rims.

Cristex Keeps Pace With Composites Sector Thanks to ‘Limitless' Zünd G3 Cutter

Cristex Composites Materials has recently expanded its product offering with the addition of a new Zünd G3 precision cutting system, enabling the company to offer its customers an enhanced cut quality and precision service.