We present experimental results characterizing the changes in electrical transport of single disordered carbon nanowires (diameter 150–250 nm) to the changes in microstructure within the nanowires induced by synthesis temperature. The material system studied is a nanoporous, semiconducting disordered carbon nanowire obtained from the pyrolysis of a polymeric precursor (polyfurfuryl alcohol). Unlike the other allotropes of carbon such as diamond, graphite (graphenes) and fullerenes (CNT, buckyballs), disordered carbons lack crystalline order and hence can exhibit a range of electronic properties, dependent on the degree of disorder and the local microstructure. Such disordered carbon nanowires are therefore materials whose electronic properties can be engineered to specifications if we understand the structure-property correlations. Using dark DC conductivity tests, measurements were performed from 300K to 450K. The charge transport behavior in the nanowires is found to follow an activation-energy based conduction at high temperatures. The conductivity for nanowires synthesized from 600°C to 2000°C is calculated and is linked to changes in the microstructure using data obtained from SEM, TEM and Raman spectroscopy. The electrical properties of the nanowire are shown to be linked intrinsically to the microstructure and the degree of disorder, which in turn can be controlled to a great extent just by controlling the pyrolysis temperature. This ability to tune the electrical property, specifically conductivity, and map it to the structural changes within the disordered material makes it a candidate material for use in active/passive electronic components, and as versatile transducers for sensors.

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