While plastics are typically electrical insulators, the addition of
conductive particles can transform them into electrical conductors.
Using a combination of experimental and simulation methods we have
established how particle orientation and shape dictate the electrical
properties in polymer nanocomposites with carbon nanotubes or silver
nanowires. Moreover, we discovered an unexpected response in the
silver-nanowire/polymer-composites, namely electrical resistive
switching. Upon the application of an electric field, the
nanocomposites change from insulating to conducting. At room
temperature, resistive switching is reversible. We have proposed a
metal filament formation mechanism for this phenomena, and experiments
are underway to evaluate this hypothesis and to explore device
applications for this novel switch.
Silver nanowires produced by electroplating into alumina templates were
combined with polystyrene to fabrication polymer nanocompoistes.
Electrical resistive switching demonstrated by recording the
conductivity as the applied voltage jumps from below to above the
switching voltage. This particular sample was successfully switched
more that 42,000 times. Schematic shows the mechanism of metal filament
formation between silver nanowires.