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Title: Conductive behaviour of carbon nanotube based composites
Author: Sun, Xinxin
Awarding Body: Loughborough University
Current Institution: Loughborough University
Date of Award: 2009
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This project was basically exploratory in the electrical properties of carbon nanotube (CNT) based materials. The direct current (DC) conductivity of CNT/polymer composites was computed by using equivalent circuit method and a three dimensional (3-D) numerical continuum model with the consideration of tunneling conduction. The effects of the potential barrier of polymer and the tortousity of CNTs on the conductivity were analyzed. It was found that both of percolation threshold and DC conductivity can be strongly affected by the potential barrier and the tortousity. The influence of contact resistance on DC conductivity was also computed, and the results revealed that contact resistance and tunneling resistance had significant influences on the conductivity, but did not affect the percolation threshold. The microstructure-dependent alternating current (AC) properties of CNT/polymer composites were investigated using the 3-D numerical continuum model. It was found that AC conductivity and critical frequency of CNT/polymer composites can be enhanced by increasing the curl ratio of CNTs. In the mid-range CNT mass fraction, with increasing curl ratio of CNTs, AC conductivity, interestingly, became frequency-dependent in low frequency range, which cannot be explained by reference to the percolation theory. A proper interpretation was given based on the linear circuit theory. It was also found that the critical frequency can also be affected by the size of CNT cluster. Series numerical formulas were derived by using a numerical capacitively and resistively junction model. In particular, this work introduced an equivalent resistor-capacitor (RC) circuit with simple definitions of the values of contact resistance and average mutual capacitance for CNT/polymer nanocomposites. Theoretical results were in good agreement with experimental data, and successfully predicted the effect of morphology on the AC properties of CNT/polymer composites. DC and AC conductivities of multi-walled carbon nanotube (MWCNT)/graphene oxide (GO) hybrid films were measured for selected MWCNT mass fractions of 10%, 33.3%, 50%, 66.7%, and 83.3% using four-probe method. The experimental results were fitted using scaling law, and relatively high percolation threshold was found. This high percolation threshold was understood in terms of the potential energy and intrinsic ripples and warping in the freestanding graphene sheets. The capacitance of these hybrid films were measured using the voltmeter-ammeter-wattmeter test circuit with different voltages and heat treatments. The MWCNT/GO film showed relatively high specific capacitance (0.192F/cm3 for the mass fraction of 83.3%) and power factor compared to conventional dielectric capacitors. Both of measured capacitance and power factor can be enhanced by increasing testing voltages. The capacitance of MWCNT/GO films rapidly decreased after heat treatments above 160 ℃. This decrease was caused by redox reaction in the GO sheets. The capacitive behaviour of MWCNT/GO hybrid films was also interpreted by using the equivalent circuit model. Single-walled carbon nanotube (SWCNT) and SWCNT/Poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) films were used to form a piezoresistive strain sensor. Both of static and dynamic strain sensing behaviours of SWCNT and SWCNT/PVA films were measured. It was found that the sensitivities of these films decreased with increasing their thicknesses. The SWCNT film with a thickness of 1900 nm and SWCNT/PVA film exhibited viscoelastic sensing behaviour, because van der Waals attraction force allowed axial slippages of the smooth surface of nanotubes. A numerical model was derived based on the dynamic strain sensing behaviour. This model could be useful for designing CNT strain sensors. Finally, thermoelectric power (TEP) of deformed SWCNT films with various thicknesses was measured. It was observed that positive TEP of SWCNT films increased with increasing stain above the critical point. The experimental results were fitted by using a numerical model in terms of a variation of Nordheim-Gorter relation and fluctuation induced tunneling (FIT) model. From the numerical model, it was found that the increase of TEP above the critical strain resulted from the positive term of the contribution from the barrier region, and the effect of barrier regions decreases with increasing the thickness of the film.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Carbon nanotube ; Graphene-oxide ; Strain sensor ; Thermoelectricity ; Nanocomposites ; Computer modeling ; Nanocapacitor