The electrical impedance behavior of gellan gum (GG), GG-carbon nanotube, and GG-carbon nanofiber hydrogel composites is reported. It is demonstrated that the impedance behavior of these gels can be modeled using a Warburg element in series with a resistor. Sonolysis (required to disperse the carbon fillers) does not affect GG hydrogel electrical conductivity (1.2 ± 0.1 mS/cm), but has a detrimental effect on the gel's mechanical characteristics. It was found that the electrical conductivity (evaluated using impedance analysis) increases with increasing volume fraction of the carbon fillers and decreasing water content. For example, carbon nanotube containing hydrogels exhibited a six- to sevenfold increase in electrical conductivity (to 7 ± 2 mS/cm) at water content of 82%. It is demonstrated that at water content of 95 ± 2% the electrical behavior of multiwalled nanotube containing hydrogels transitions (percolates) from transport dominated by ions (owing to GG) to transport dominated by electrons (owing to the carbon nanotube network).
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/robert_gorkin/17/