Applied Nanoscience

, Volume 8, Issue 5, pp 1221–1232 | Cite as

Highest recorded electrical conductivity and microstructure in polypropylene–carbon nanotubes composites and the effect of carbon nanofibers addition

  • C. A. Ramírez-Herrera
  • J. Pérez-González
  • O. Solorza-Feria
  • N. Romero-Partida
  • A. Flores-Vela
  • J. G. Cabañas-Moreno
Original Article


In the last decade, numerous investigations have been devoted to the preparation of polypropylene–multiwalled carbon nanotubes (PP/MWCNT) nanocomposites having enhanced properties, and in particular, high electrical conductivities (> 1 S cm−1). The present work establishes that the highest electrical conductivity in PP/MWCNT nanocomposites is limited by the amount of nanofiller content which can be incorporated in the polymer matrix, namely, about 20 wt%. This concentration of MWCNT in PP leads to a maximum electrical conductivity slightly lower than 8 S cm−1, but only by assuring an adequate combination of dispersion and spatial distribution of the carbon nanotubes. The realization of such an optimal microstructure depends on the characteristics of the production process of the PP/MWCNT nanocomposites; in our experiments, involving composite fabrication by melt mixing and hot pressing, a second re-processing cycle is shown to increase the electrical conductivity values by up to two orders of magnitude, depending on the MWCNT content of the nanocomposite. A modest increase of the highest electrical conductivity obtained in nanocomposites with 21.5 wt% MWCNT content has been produced by the combined use of carbon nanofibers (CNF) and MWCNT, so that the total nanofiller content was increased to 30 wt% in the nanocomposite with PP—15 wt% MWCNT—15 wt%CNF.


Polymer nanocomposites Carbon nanotubes Carbon nanofibers Polypropylene nanocomposites Electrical properties 



C. A. Ramírez-Herrera is grateful to Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT) for a graduate fellowship with registry number 258940. The authors acknowledge the financial support provided by the 221795-SEP CONACYT project and Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados del I.P.N. (CINVESTAV-IPN). Centro de Nanociencias y Micro y Nanotecnologías del I.P.N. (CNMN-IPN), LANE-CINVESTAV, Indelpro S.A. de C.V., R. Gómez-Aguilar from ESFM-IPN, B. Zeifert from ESIQIE-IPN, J. L. Reyes-Rodríguez and Z. Rivera-Álvarez from CINVESTAV-IPN are recognized for the technical and experimental support provided in the realization of this research.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. A. Ramírez-Herrera
    • 1
  • J. Pérez-González
    • 2
  • O. Solorza-Feria
    • 3
  • N. Romero-Partida
    • 4
  • A. Flores-Vela
    • 5
  • J. G. Cabañas-Moreno
    • 1
  1. 1.Programa de Doctorado en Nanociencias y NanotecnologíaCINVESTAVCiudad de MéxicoMexico
  2. 2.Departamento de Física, Escuela Superior de Física y MatemáticasInstituto Politécnico NacionalCiudad de MéxicoMexico
  3. 3.Departamento de QuímicaCINVESTAVCiudad de MéxicoMexico
  4. 4.Industrias Romfer S.A. de C.V.Ciudad de MéxicoMexico
  5. 5.Centro Mexicano para la Producción más LimpiaInstituto Politécnico NacionalCiudad de MéxicoMexico

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