Multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs)/polypropylene composites were prepared by melt-mixing, by varying the MWCNT content from 1 to 7 wt%, and samples were manufactured by injection moulding technique. DC electrical characterization was performed by the two-probe method in the three main directions: longitudinal and transversal to the flux of the material during the mould filling, and in the through-thickness direction. Moreover, a dedicated setup was adopted to measure the electrical resistance at different depths of the specimen cross-sectional areas. Two different electrical percolation thresholds, calculated at about 2 wt% and 3 wt% of MWCNTs (longitudinally/transversely to the mould filling flux and in the through-thickness directions, respectively), were found. In order to investigate the role of the structure/morphology of the composites on the electrical properties, samples have been cryofractured, chemically etched and characterized by means of scanning electron microscopy. As a result, the observed anisotropic electrical behaviour was associated with the different network morphology, which was detected in the cross-sectional area, caused by the injection moulding process. Based on the observed through-thickness electrical behaviour, a phenomenological DC conduction model has been developed, describing the sample as a multilayer system, being the external layers (skin) less conductive than the internal region (core). This model, combined with the bulk electrical tests, can be considered as a valuable mathematical tool to foresee the electrical behaviour of MWCNT-based composites for designing new industrial injection-moulded components.
Armentano I.;Torre L.;Kenny J. M.
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