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Hierarchical Silver Nanoparticle Micro-Clustering in Poly(methyl methacrylate) Matrix in Spin-Coatable Electrically Conductive Thermoplastics

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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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  • Science of Advanced Materials (SAM) is an interdisciplinary peer-reviewed journal consolidating research activities in all aspects of advanced materials in the fields of science, engineering and medicine into a single and unique reference source. SAM provides the means for materials scientists, chemists, physicists, biologists, engineers, ceramicists, metallurgists, theoreticians and technocrats to publish original research articles as reviews with author's photo and short biography, full research articles and communications of important new scientific and technological findings, encompassing the fundamental and applied research in all latest aspects of advanced materials.
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