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Evaluation of different conductive nanostructured particles as filler in smart piezoresistive composites

Stefano Stassi12, Giancarlo Canavese1*, Valentina Cauda1, Simone L Marasso2 and Candido Fabrizio Pirri12

Author Affiliations

1 Center for Space Human Robotics, IIT Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia @ PoliTo, Trento 21, 10129, Torino, Italy

2 Department of Applied Science and Technology, Politecnico di Torino, Duca degli Abruzzi 24, 10129, Torino, Italy

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2012, 7:327  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-7-327

Published: 21 June 2012


This work presents a comparison between three piezoresistive composite materials based on nanostructured conductive fillers in a polydimethylsiloxane insulating elastomeric matrix for sensing applications. Without any mechanical deformation upon an applied bias, the prepared composites present an insulating electric behavior, while, when subjected to mechanical load, the electric resistance is reduced exponentially. Three different metal fillers were tested: commercial nickel and copper spiky-particles and synthesized highly-pointed gold nanostars. These particles were chosen because of their high electrical conductivity and especially for the presence of nanosized sharp tips on their surface. These features generate an enhancement of the local electric field increasing the tunneling probability between the particles. Different figures of merit concerning the morphology of the fillers were evaluated and correlated with the corresponding functional response of the composite.

Spiky nanostructured particles; Shape-controlled synthesis; Quantum tunneling; Piezoresistivity; Polymer-metal composite; Gold; Nickel; Copper