Polystyrene composites filled with multi-wall carbon nanotubes and indium tin oxide nanopowders: properties, fabrication, characterization
Boyea, John M.
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This research was designed to fabricate and characterize novel polyhedral phase segregated microstructures of polystyrene (PS)-matrix composites filled with multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWNT) and indium tin oxide (ITO) nanopowders. PS-composites were compression molded with MWNT and ITO separately first. The resulting composites were conducting, and remained optically transparent. Mixtures of MWNT and ITO were then used to form mixed ITO/MWNT PS-composites in order to optimize their transparency and conductivity. This was achieved by fabricating composites with varying concentrations of fillers. Impedance spectroscopy was used to characterize the electrical properties of the PS-composites. Optical properties were characterized by measuring the transmission of light through the PS-composite in the visible light spectrum using a spectrophotometer. The electrical properties and microstructural attributes of the fillers used were also characterized. The main objective of the project was to understand the relationships between the structural, electrical, and optical properties of the PS-composites. The resistivity of PS-composites filled with MWNT ranged from 105 to 1013 Ω cm for samples with 0.007 to 0.9 vol% MWNT. The resistivity of PS-composites filled with ITO ranged from 107 to 1013 Ω cm for PS-composites with 0.034 to 0.86 vol% ITO. PS/ITO composites had a percolation threshold of 0.15, 0.25, or 0.3 phr ITO, depending on the type of ITO used in the composite. The percolation threshold of PS/MWNT composites was found to be 0.01 phr MWNT. Mixed ITO/MWNT PS-composites were already percolated, the concentrations investigated in xv ii this study were already above the percolation threshold of these composites. A time dependence on impedance was found for PS-composites filled with MWNT. As time increases there is a decrease in impedance, and in some cases also a dependence on voltage. All PS-composites showed a dependence on the microstructure of the PS matrix and the filler material. The resistivity and percolation threshold were lower for PS/MWNT composites than PS/ITO composites due to the difference in filler size and aspect ratio, since MWNT have a smaller size. The orientation of PS grains with respect to neighboring grains was found to affect the resistivity of PS/MWNT. PS/MWNT composites with preferentially oriented PS grains were found to have a lower resistivity. Mixed ITO/MWNT PS-composites with the right filler concentrations were able to maintain transmission while decreasing resistivity. The fracture surface of fractured PS-composites prepared in this work indicated that there was bonding between adjacent PS-grains. From this work, it can be concluded that large grain hybrid ITO/MWNT PS-composites provide insight into the effect of combining nanometer sized filler materials together in a polymer matrix on the resultant structural, electrical, and optical properties of the composite. In the future, it is recommended that this study be used to aid research in flexible transparent conducting electrodes using a polymer matrix and hybrid/mixed nanometer sized conducting fillers.