Polymer, Vol.52, No.10, 2276-2285, 2011
Polymer/carbon nanotube composites for liquid sensing: Model for electrical response characteristics
Electrically conductive polymer composites (CPCs) based on carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and polycarbonate were investigated regarding their electrical resistance change in different solvents like tetrahydrofuran, acetone, and ethyl acetate. CPCs containing 0.086 to 2.778 vol.% CNT were melt mixed using a twin-screw extruder under optimised conditions and subsequently compression-moulded. All sensing experiments revealed a resistance increase of CPCs having a U-shaped sample geometry during solvent immersion. Light microscopy investigations have shown that the diffusion of solvents into CPCs can be monitored in terms of a pronounced diffusion front, separating a swollen skin from the dry core. Based on this observed skin-core morphology, a model allowing the calculation of the time depending relative resistance change has been proposed considering several factors like diffusion parameters, composite characteristics, and geometrical values. Simulated response curves based on the model were compared with experimental data obtained on the CPCs and very good agreement was observed. Using this model the influence of CNT content and kind of solvent could be described exactly. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.