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Giant surface conductivity enhancement in a carbon nanotube composite by ultraviolet light exposure



Christian J. Long, Nathan D. Orloff, Kevin A. Twedt, Thomas F. Lam, Luis Fernando Vargas Lara, Minhua Zhao, Bharath NMN Natarajan, Keana C. Scott, Eric Marksz, Tinh Nguyen, Jack F. Douglas, Jabez J. McClelland, Edward J. Garboczi, Jan Obrzut, James A. Liddle


Carbon nanotube composites are lightweight, multifunctional materials with readily adjustable mechanical and electrical properties—relevant to the aerospace, automotive, and sporting goods industries as high-performance building materials. Here, we combine well-established and newly-developed characterization techniques to demonstrate that ultraviolet (UV) light exposure provides a controllable means to enhance the surface electrical conductivity of a commercial carbon nanotube-epoxy composite by over five orders of magnitude. Our observations, combined with theory and simulations, reveal that the increase in conductivity is due to the formation of a densified layer of nanotubes on the composite surface. Our model implies that contacts between nanotube-rich microdomains dominate the conductivity of this layer at low UV dose, while tube-tube transport dominates at high UV dose. Further, we show the surface conductivity may be rapidly patterned using a UV laser, providing a facile approach for direct integration of lightweight conductors on nanocomposite surfaces.
ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces


nanocomposite, nanofiller, carbon nanotubes, multiwall carbon nanotubes, microwave, scanning ion microscopy


Long, C. , Orloff, N. , Twedt, K. , Lam, T. , , L. , Zhao, M. , , B. , Scott, K. , Marksz, E. , Nguyen, T. , Douglas, J. , McClelland, J. , Garboczi, E. , Obrzut, J. and Liddle, J. (2016), Giant surface conductivity enhancement in a carbon nanotube composite by ultraviolet light exposure, ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, [online], (Accessed June 24, 2024)


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Created July 29, 2016, Updated November 10, 2018