Tunneling resistance and its effect on the electrical conductivity of carbon nanotube nanocomposites

W. S. Bao, S. A. Meguid, Z. H. Zhu, G. J. Weng

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165 Scopus citations


In this paper, we examined the effect of electron tunneling upon the electrical conductivity of carbon nanotube (CNT) polymer nanocomposites. A CNT percolating network model was developed to account for the random distribution of the CNT network using Monte Carlo simulations, where the tunneling resistance between CNTs was established based on the electron transport theory. Our work shows several novel features that result from this tunneling resistance: (i) direct contact resistance is the result of one-dimensional electron ballistic tunneling between two adjacent CNTs, (ii) the nanoscale CNT-CNT contact resistance should be represented by the Landauer-Büttiker (L-B) formula, which accounts for both tunneling and direct contact resistances, and (iii) the difference in contact resistance between single-walled CNTs (SWCNTs) and multi-walled CNTs (MWCNTs) can be modeled by the channel number in the L-B model. The model predictions reveal that the contact resistance due to electron tunneling effects in nanocomposites with dispersed SWCNTs plays a more dominant role than those with MWCNTs. These results compare favorably with existing experimental data and demonstrate that the proposed model can properly estimate the electrical conductivity of nanocomposites containing homogeneously dispersed percolating CNT network.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number093726
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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