Electron tunneling in carbon nanotube composites

Chie Gau, Cheng Yung Kuo, H. S. Ko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


Nanocomposites, such as polymer blending with carbon nanotubes (CNTs), have been shown to have a drastic reduction in the resistivity and become conductive when the CNTs concentration has reached a certain percolation threshold. The reduction could be more than a millionth of the original polymer material. This has been realized as the formation of an infinite cluster of connected CNTs or pathways. Therefore, the conductivity of a nanocomposite should follow that of CNTs. Here we show that the resistivity of a nanocomposite is not governed by the interconnected CNTs, but the polymer between neighboring CNTs. That is, polymer-CNTs exhibit the nature of a conducting polymer, which can be explained as the tunneling of electrons one by one from the first CNT electrode to the next-nearest CNT electrode, forming a CNT/polymer pathway. A conduction model based on the tunneling of electrons passing, one by one, through the polymer gap between two neighboring CNT electrodes is formulated and derived. This model can accurately predict the significant reduction of the polymer-CNTs' resistivity with the addition of CNTs. The temperature effect can be readily incorporated to account for resistivity variation with the temperature of this nanocomposites.

Original languageEnglish
Article number395705
Issue number39
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Sep 21

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Materials Science(all)


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