The addition of multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) or carbon nanofibers (CNFs) to polymeric melts offers a convenient route to obtain highly conductive plastics. However, when these materials are melt processed, their conductivity can be lost. Here, it is shown that conductivities can be recovered through melt annealing at temperatures above the polymer's glass transition temperature (Tg). We demonstrate these results for both MWCNT and CNF-based composites in polystyrene (PS). The mechanism behind the conductivity increase is elucidated through modeling. It involves a transition from aligned, unconnected particles prior to annealing to an interconnected network after annealing through viscoelastic relaxation of the polymer. Such re-arrangement is directly visualized for the case of the CNF-based composites using confocal microscopy. The annealing-induced increase in particle connectivity is also reflected in dynamic rheological measurements on both MWCNT and CNF composites as an increase in their elastic moduli at low frequencies. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research
Choose a citation style from the tabs below