Carbon-nanotubes (CNT) are fascinating compounds, exhibiting exceptional electrical, thermal conductivity, mechanical
strength, and nonlinear optical (NLO) properties. Their unique structures involve large π-π* electronic clouds. The
energy level schemes thus created allow many electronic transitions between the ground and the excited states. The
present work involves CNT-doped hybrid organic-inorganic glass composites prepared by a Fast-sol-gel method. Such
composite glasses solidify without shrinkage or crack formation, and exhibit promising properties as optical devices. In
this work we have studied nonlinear optical and electrical conductivity properties.
The CNT composite glasses exhibited enhanced absorption at 532 nm, and saturable absorption at 1064 nm. The
enhanced absorption at 532 was attributed to 2-photon absorption; saturable absorption was attributed to depletion of the
absorbing ground-state, and was analyzed using the modified Frantz-Nodvik equation. Absorption cross-sections were
extracted for the saturable absorption phenomenon. Such CNT composites glasses may be used as "optical limiting"
filters in lasers near 532 nm, or as saturable absorbing filters for passive laser Q-switching near 1064 nm.
The CNT composites electrical conductivity was studied as a function of the CNT concentration and modeled by a
percolation theory. The maximal measured conductivity was σ ≈10-3 (Ωcm)-1 for the CNT composites, representing a conductivity increase of at least 12 orders of magnitude compared to that of pure silica. A quite low percolation
threshold was obtained, φc = 0.22 wt.% CNT. Electrostatic Force Microscopy (EFM) and Conductive mode Atomic Force Microscopy (C-AFM) studies revealed that the conductivity occurs at the micro-level among the CNTs dispersed in the matrix.