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Piezoresistive effect in carbon nanotube fibers.


The complex structure of the macroscopic assemblies of carbon nanotubes and variable intrinsic piezoresistivity of nanotubes themselves lead to highly interesting piezoresistive performance of this new type of conductive material. Here, we present an in-depth study of the piezoresistive effect in carbon nanotube fibers, i.e., yarnlike assemblies made purely of aligned carbon nanotubes, which are expected to find applications as electrical and electronic materials. The resistivity changes of carbon nanotube fibers were measured on initial loading, through the elastic/plastic transition, on cyclic loading and on stress relaxation. The various regimes of stress/strain behavior were modeled using a standard linear solid model, which was modified with an additional element in series to account for the observed creep behavior. On the basis of the experimental and modeling results, the origin of piezoresistivity is discussed. An additional effect on the resistivity was found as the fiber was held under load which led to observations of the effect of humidity and the associated water adsorption level on the resistivity. We show that the equilibrium uptake of moisture leads to the decrease in gauge factor of the fiber decrease, i.e., the reduction in the sensitivity of fiber resistivity to loading.