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Effect of carbon nanotube alignment on nanocomposite sensing performance


The objective of this study is to derive a numerical model of carbon nanotube (CNT)-based thin films that accurately reflect their electrical and electromechanical performance as observed through experimental tests. Although nanocomposites based on CNTs dispersed in polymer matrices have been studied extensively, their nanocomposite properties vary depending on CNT orientations. This study aimed to explain how differences in nanocomposite behavior could be revealed by numerical models considering different CNT alignment conditions. First, a percolation-based thin film model was generated by randomly dispersing CNT elements in a predefined two-dimensional domain. The degree of CNT alignment in the film was controlled by limiting the CNT elements' maximum angle they make with respect to the film's longitudinal axis. Then, numerical simulations on CNT-based film models were conducted. Second, multi-walled carbon nanotube (MWCNT)-epoxy films were prepared via drop casting. Alternating current was applied to the MWCNT-epoxy mixture before curing to prepare films with different degrees of CNT alignment. The electrical and electromechanical properties of these specimens were characterized, and the results were compared with simulations. Good agreement between experiments and simulations was observed.

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