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Low percolation threshold and high electrical conductivity in melt-blended polycarbonate/multiwall carbon nanotube nanocomposites in the presence of poly(ε-caprolactone)



This study focuses on the electrical properties of polycarbonate (PC)/poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL)-multiwall carbon nanotube (MWCNT) nanocomposites. MWCNTs were incorporated into thermoplastic PC matrix by simple melt blending using biodegradable PCL based concentrates with MWCNT loadings (3.5 wt%). Because of the lower interfacial energy between MWCNT and PCL, the nanotubes remain in their excellent dispersion state into matrix polymer. Thus, electrical percolation in PC/PCL-MWCNT nanocomposites was obtained at lower MWCNT loading rather than direct incorporation of MWCNT into PC matrix. AC and DC electrical conductivity of miscible PC/PCL-MWCNT nanocomposites were studied in a broad frequency range, 101−106 Hz and resulted in low percolation threshold (pc) of 0.14 wt%, and the critical exponent (t) of 2.09 from the scaling law equation. The plot of logσDC versus p−1/3 showed linear variation and indicated the existence of tunneling conduction among MWCNTs. At low MWCNT loading, the influence of large polymeric gaps between conducting clusters is the reason for the frequency dependent electrical conductivity. Transmission electron microscopy and field emission scanning electron microscopy showed that MWCNTs were homogeneously dispersed and developed a continuous interconnected network path throughout the matrix phase and miscibility behavior of the polymer blend. POLYM. ENG. SCI., 54:646–659, 2014. © 2013 Society of Plastics Engineers