Bridged double percolation in conductive polymer composites: an electrical conductivity, morphology and mechanical property study
Conductive polymer composites are ubiquitous in technological applications and constitute an ongoing topic of tremendous commercial interest. Strategies developed to improve the level of electrical conductivity achieved at a given filler concentration have relied on double-percolated networks induced by immiscible polymer blends, as well as mixtures of fillers in a single polymer matrix, to enhance interparticle connectivity. In this work, we combine these two strategies by examining quaternary composites consisting of high-density polyethylene (HDPE), ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE), graphite (G) and carbon fiber (CF). On the basis of our previous findings, we examine the electrical conductivity, morphology, thermal signature and mechanical properties of HDPE/UHMWPE/G systems that show evidence of double percolation. Upon addition of CF, tremendous increases in conductivity are realized. The mechanism by which this increase occurs is termed bridged double percolation to reflect the role of CF in spanning non-conductive regions and enhancing the continuity of conductive pathways. At CF concentrations above the percolation threshold concentration, addition of G promotes increases in conductivity and dynamic storage modulus in which the conductivity increases exponentially with increasing modulus.