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High thermal conductivity in amorphous polymer blends by engineered interchain interactions


Thermal conductivity is an important property for polymers, as it often affects product reliability (for example, electronics packaging), functionality (for example, thermal interface materials) and/or manufacturing cost1. However, polymer thermal conductivities primarily fall within a relatively narrow range (0.1–0.5 W m−1 K−1) and are largely unexplored. Here, we show that a blend of two polymers with high miscibility and appropriately chosen linker structure can yield a dense and homogeneously distributed thermal network. A sharp increase in cross-plane thermal conductivity is observed under these conditions, reaching over 1.5 W m−1 K−1 in typical spin-cast polymer blend films of nanoscale thickness, which is approximately an order of magnitude larger than that of other amorphous polymers.

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Figure 1: High thermal conductivity in amorphous polymer blends by engineered interchain interactions.
Figure 2: Comparison of H-bond strengths in PAP:PAA, PAP:PVA and PAP:PVPh.
Figure 3: Thermal and structural properties of PAP:PAA.
Figure 4: Tapping-mode AFM data for PAP:PAA blends.


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This work was supported by the US Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Basic Energy Sciences, as part of the Center for Solar and Thermal Energy Conversion in Complex Materials, an Energy Frontier Research Center (DE-SC0000957). This work was also partly supported by the Converging Research Center Program funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (Project No. 2014M3C1A8048791). G-H.K. also acknowledges a PISET fellowship from the University of Michigan Energy Institute. All authors acknowledge the Lurie Nanofabrication Facility and Electron Microbeam Analysis Laboratory for sample preparation and characterization.

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G-H.K. conceived the initial ideas with the help of K.P.P., and measured and analysed the thermal conductivity and AFM data. J.K., D.L. and A.S. designed the polymer systems. D.L., A.S. and G-H.K. prepared the polymer blend films. D.L. and A.S. measured and analysed FTIR spectroscopy data. L.S. deposited metal patterns and measured film thicknesses. G-H.K., A.S., and M.S.K. measured and analysed DSC data. D.L. measured GIXS. D.G. measured PALS. J.K. and K.P.P. supervised the work. G-H.K. wrote the manuscript with contributions from all authors, and J.K. and K.P.P. revised the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Jinsang Kim or Kevin P. Pipe.

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Kim, GH., Lee, D., Shanker, A. et al. High thermal conductivity in amorphous polymer blends by engineered interchain interactions. Nature Mater 14, 295–300 (2015).

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