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Temperature dependence of resistivity of carbon micro/nanostructures: Microscale spatial distribution with mixed metallic and...

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Journal of Applied Physics
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The temperature coefficient of resistivity (θT) of carbon-based materials is a critical property that directly determines their electrical response upon thermal impulses. It could have metal- (positive) or semiconductor-like (negative) behavior, depending on the combined temperature dependence of electron density and electron scattering. Its distribution in space is very difficult to measure and is rarely studied. Here, for the first time, we report that carbon-based micro/nanoscale structures have a strong non-uniform spatial distribution of θT⁠. This distribution is probed by measuring the transient electro-thermal response of the material under extremely localized step laser heating and scanning, which magnifies the local θT effect in the measured transient voltage evolution. For carbon microfibers (CMFs), after electrical current annealing, θT varies from negative to positive from the sample end to the center with a magnitude change of >130% over <1 mm. This θT sign change is confirmed by directly testing smaller segments from different regions of an annealed CMF. For micro-thick carbon nanotube bundles, θT is found to have a relative change of >125% within a length of ∼2 mm, uncovering strong metallic to semiconductive behavior change in space. Our θT scanning technique can be readily extended to nm-thick samples with μm scanning resolution to explore the distribution of θT and provide a deep insight into the local electron conduction.