Highly doped carbon nanotubes with gold nanoparticles and their influence on electrical conductivity and thermopower of nanocomposites.
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Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are often used as conductive fillers in composite materials, but electrical conductivity is limited by the maximum filler concentration that is necessary to maintain composite structures. This paper presents further improvement in electrical conductivity by precipitating gold nanoparticles onto CNTs. In our composites, the concentrations of CNTs and poly (vinyl acetate) were respectively 60 and 10 vol%. Four different gold concentrations, 0, 10, 15, or 20 vol% were used to compare the influence of the gold precipitation on electrical conductivity and thermopower of the composites. The remaining portion was occupied by poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) poly(styrenesulfonate), which de-bundled and stabilized CNTs in water during synthesis processes. The concentrations of gold nanoparticles are below the percolation threshold of similar composites. However, with 15-vol% gold, the electrical conductivity of our composites was as high as 610(5) S/m, which is at least 500% higher than those of similar composites as well as orders of magnitude higher than those of other polymer composites containing CNTs and gold particles. According to our analysis with a variable range hopping model, the high conductivity can be attributed to gold doping on CNT networks. Additionally, the electrical properties of composites made of different types of CNTs were also compared.