Ju Li, Jay Kikkawa and Karen Winey
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.