A simulation study on the combined effects of nanotube shape and shear flow on the electrical percolation thresholds of carbon nanotube/polymer composites
Here we investigate the combined effects of carbon nanotube (CNT) properties such as aspect ratio, curvature, and tunneling length and shear rate on the microstructure and electrical conductivities of CNT/polymer composites using fiber-level simulations. Electrical conductivities are calculated using a resistor network algorithm. Results for percolation thresholds in static systems agree with predictions and experimental measurements. We show that imposed shear flow can decrease the electrical percolation threshold by facilitating the formation of conductive aggregates. In agreement with previous research, we find that lower percolation thresholds are obtained for nanotubes with high aspect ratio. Our results also show that an increase in the curvature of nanotubes can make more agglomeration and reduce the percolation threshold in sheared suspensions. © 2011 American Institute of Physics.