High electrical conductance enhancement in Au-nanoparticle decorated sparse single-wall carbon nanotube networks.
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We report high electrical conductance enhancement in sparse single-walled carbon nanotube networks by decoration with Au nanoparticles. The optimized hybrid network exhibited a sheet resistance of 650 Ω sq(-1), 1/1500 of the resistance of the host undecorated network, with a negligible optical transmission penalty (>90% transmittance at 550 nm wavelength). The electrical transport at room temperature in the host and decorated networks was dominated by two-dimensional variable range hopping. The high conductance enhancement was due to positive charge transfer from the decorating Au nanoparticles in intimate contact with the host network causing a Fermi energy shift into the high density of states at a van Hove singularity and enhanced electron delocalization relative to the host network which beneficially modifies the hopping parameters in such a way that the network behaves as an integral whole. The effect is most pronounced when the nanoparticle diameter is comparable to the electron mean free path in the bulk material at room temperature and there is minimum nanoparticle agglomeration. For higher than optimal values of nanoparticle coverage or nanoparticle diameter, the conductance enhancement is countered by metallic inclusions in the current pathways that are of higher resistance than the variable range hopping-controlled elements.