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Keywords:

  • chemical sensor;
  • SEBS;
  • thermoplastic elastomer;
  • carbon black;
  • conductivity

Abstract

Chemical sensing materials based on conductive carbon black (CB) filled [styrene-ethylene butylene-styrene] triblock-copolymers (SEBS) were investigated. Several types of SEBS copolymers were studied, differing in composition and melt viscosity. The sensing is based on electrical conductivity changes upon solvent sorption/desorption. Compression molding SEBS composites containing various amounts of CB were prepared. Their electrical conductivity was measured and samples containing CB, preferentially located in the continuous ethylene/butylene (EB) phase, at a level near the corresponding percolation threshold were used for the sensing experiments. The conductivity was measured during several exposure/drying cycles. Structure characterization included scanning electron microscopy (SEM), dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA), and calorimetry (DSC). The SEBS composites exhibit large reversible changes in conductivity upon exposure to a limited number of solvents, e.g., acetone, n-heptane, and air drying cycles. This behavior was related to the sorption kinetics, affected by the solvent characteristics (solubility parameter, polarity, molecular volume and vapor pressure). The samples' resistance tended to return to their initial value upon short drying of acetone, and longer drying of other studied solvents. The nature of the SEBS, the CB content, and mixing temperature are all significant parameters, determining the sample's structure and the resultant sensing property. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci, 2009