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AC Electric Field-Induced Alignment and Long-Range Assembly of Multi-Wall Carbon Nanotubes Inside Aqueous Media

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Abstract:

The present work examines the behavior of multiwall carbon nanotubes (MWCNT) inside AC electric fields created by three-dimensional electrodes. The response of carbon nanotubes stably suspended in water with the aid of a nonionic surfactant is monitored by combining microscopic observations with on-line measurements of the suspension resistivity. It is found that polarization effects induced by the externally applied AC electric field on MWCNTs can cause their unidirectional orientation and end-to-end contact that result in formations of spatially distributed, long-range, three-dimensional and electrically conducting structures that span the entire gap between the electrodes. The length of the formed structures, which in the present case was approximately 30 times larger than that of an individual carbon nanotube, can be controlled by adjusting the spacing between the electrodes. The influence of main experimental parameters, namely, MWCNT concentration, applied voltage, AC field frequency, and electrode surface topography on the suspension behavior is experimentally examined. Results are demonstrated for applied voltage values, AC field frequencies, and carbon nanotube concentrations in the range 4–40 Vptp, 10 Hz–5 MHz, and 0.001–2.0 wt%, respectively. While higher electric field strengths accelerate the formation of aligned structures, higher frequency values were found to result in suspensions that exhibit smaller electrical resistivity. Carbon nanotube dispersions exposed to an AC electric field exhibit a 100-fold or more decrease in their electrical resistivity, even when carbon nanotube concentrations as low as 0.005 wt% are used.

Keywords: AC ELECTRIC FIELD; DIELECTROPHORESIS; LONG-RANGE STRUCTURES; MULTI-WALL CARBON NANOTUBES

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1166/jnn.2007.871

Publication date: December 1, 2007

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  • Journal for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (JNN) is an international and multidisciplinary peer-reviewed journal with a wide-ranging coverage, consolidating research activities in all areas of nanoscience and nanotechnology into a single and unique reference source. JNN is the first cross-disciplinary journal to publish original full research articles, rapid communications of important new scientific and technological findings, timely state-of-the-art reviews with author's photo and short biography, and current research news encompassing the fundamental and applied research in all disciplines of science, engineering and medicine.
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