Rice University

Events at Rice

Thesis Defense

Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies
Mechanical Engineering

Speaker: Clayton Higginson
Masters Candidate

A Resistor Network Model for the Determination of Electrical and Thermal Properties of Nanocomposites

Wednesday, April 5, 2017
10:00 AM  to 11:30 AM

127  Mechanical Engineering Building


Superior electrical, thermal, and mechanical properties of carbon nanotubes have made them popular candidates for use as fillers in polymer nanocomposites. This thesis presents a numerical model designed to determine the electrical and heat transport properties of these materials via percolation theory. Realistic nanocomposite representative volume elements are generated in three-dimensional space according to user-defined input parameters. A spanning network algorithm is used to search for connections between nanotubes and interconnected nanotubes are converted into equivalent resistor networks. The resistor network is then solved using finite element analysis through Kirchoff’s current law for electrical transport and Fourier’s law for thermal transport. Monte Carlo simulations are used to eliminate statistical variation at each volume fraction of nanotube filler. Several different boundary treatment methods are tested in order to determine which is the most computationally efficient. The model is validated by comparison to experimental data reported in the literature. The presented model is unique in that it can predict both the electrical and thermal conductivity of carbon nanotube based polymer nanocomposites.

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