Connectivity percolation of polydisperse anisotropic nanofillers

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Abstract

We present a generalized connectedness percolation theory reduced to a compact form for a large class of anisotropic particle mixtures with variable degrees of connectivity. Even though allowing for an infinite number of components, we derive a compact yet exact expression for the mean cluster size of connected particles. We apply our theory to rodlike particles taken as a model for carbon nanotubes and find that the percolation threshold is sensitive to polydispersity in length, diameter, and the level of connectivity, which may explain large variations in the experimental values for the electrical percolation threshold in carbon-nanotube composites. The calculated connectedness percolation threshold depends only on a few moments of the full distribution function. If the distribution function factorizes, then the percolation threshold is raised by the presence of thicker rods, whereas it is lowered by any length polydispersity relative to the one with the same average length and diameter. We show that for a given average length, a length distribution that is strongly skewed to shorter lengths produces the lowest threshold relative to the equivalent monodisperse one. However, if the lengths and diameters of the particles are linearly correlated, polydispersity raises the percolation threshold and more so for a more skewed distribution toward smaller lengths. The effect of connectivity polydispersity is studied by considering nonadditive mixtures of conductive and insulating particles, and we present tentative predictions for the percolation threshold of graphene sheets modeled as perfectly rigid, disklike particles.
Original languageEnglish
Article number094902
Pages (from-to)094902-1/15
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Volume134
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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