Hierarchical Silver Nanoparticle Micro-Clustering in Poly(methyl methacrylate) Matrix in Spin-Coatable Electrically Conductive Thermoplastics
Preparation of electrically conductive thermoplastic films with high conductivity and uniform thickness is critical for printed electronic, optoelectronic and energy conversion devices on flexible and low cost substrates. Herein is presented our experimental endeavor on preparing such films via spin coating of silver nanoparticles (AgNPs), poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) and toluene blends. The AgNPs used in this work were uniquely fashioned from agglomerates of Ag nanorods with an average thickness of 30 nm and an aspect ratio of about 6. These aggregates, undergo a low temperature plastic deformation, contact formation and coalescence at temperatures as low as 150 °C, resulting in films with low resistivity (10–4–10–5 Ωm). Correlations between the resultant films' topological microstructures, optical properties and their electrical properties were determined by comparing their surface and cross-sectional images, transmission spectra and electrical conductivity measurements. A hierarchical shear dependent AgNP-PMMA phase segregation within the films highly influenced the observed trends. An indirect correlation between the viscosity of the solution used to cast the films and their electrical conductivity was inferred. The more viscous blends exhibited susceptibility to shear thinning during spin-coating, bearing less conductive films due to poor inter-particle contacts and 'skinning effects.'
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: November 1, 2013
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