Departmental Papers (MSE)

An infiltration method for preparing single-wall nanotube/epoxy composites with improved thermal conductivity

Fangming Du, University of Pennsylvania
Csaba Guthy, University of Pennsylvania
Takashi Kashiwagi, National Institute of Standards and Technology
John E. Fischer, University of Pennsylvania
Karen I. Winey, University of Pennsylvania

Document Type Journal Article

Postprint version. “This is a preprint of an article published in AIChe Journal, Volume 44, Issue 10, March 2004, pages 1513-1519.”
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Recent studies of SWNT/ polymer nanocomposites identify the large interfacial thermal resistance at nanotube/nanotube junctions as a primary cause for the only modest increases in thermal conductivity relative to the polymer matrix. To reduce this interfacial thermal resistance, we prepared a freestanding nanotube framework by removing the polymer matrix from a 1wt% SWNT/PMMA composite by nitrogen gasification and then infiltrated it with epoxy resin and cured. The SWNT/epoxy composite made by this infiltration method has a micron-scale bicontinuous morphology and much improved thermal conductivity (220% relative to epoxy) due to the more effective heat transfer within the nanotube-rich phase. By applying a linear mixing rule to the bicontinuous composite, we conclude that even at high loadings the nanotube framework more effectively transports phonons than well-dispersed SWNT bundles. Contrary to the widely accepted approaches, these findings suggest that better thermal and electrical conductivities can be accomplished via heterogeneous distributions of SWNT in polymer matrices.


Date Posted: 22 September 2006

This document has been peer reviewed.