Tunneling effect in a polymer/carbon nanotube nanocomposite strain sensor

Ning Hu, Yoshifumi Karube, Cheng Yan, Zen Masuda, Hisao Fukunaga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

784 Citations (Scopus)


A strain sensor has been fabricated from a polymer nanocomposite with multiwalled carbon nanotube (MWNT) fillers. The piezoresistivity of this nanocomposite strain sensor has been investigated based on an improved three-dimensional (3D) statistical resistor network model incorporating the tunneling effect between the neighboring carbon nanotubes (CNTs), and a fiber reorientation model. The numerical results agree very well with the experimental measurements. As compared with traditional strain gauges, much higher sensitivity can be obtained in the nanocomposite sensors when the volume fraction of CNT is close to the percolation threshold. For a small CNT volume fraction, weak nonlinear piezoresistivity is observed both experimentally and from numerical simulation. The tunneling effect is considered to be the principal mechanism of the sensor under small strains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2929-2936
Number of pages8
JournalActa Materialia
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Aug
Externally publishedYes


  • Electrical resistivity/conductivity
  • Monte Carlo techniques
  • Nanocomposite
  • Polymer matrix composites

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Metals and Alloys


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