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Effect of Alignment on Enhancement of Thermal Conductivity of Polyethylene–Graphene Nanocomposites and Comparison with Effective Medium Theory

School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73019, USA
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Nanomaterials 2020, 10(7), 1291; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano10071291
Received: 14 June 2020 / Revised: 25 June 2020 / Accepted: 25 June 2020 / Published: 30 June 2020
Thermal conductivity (k) of polymers is usually limited to low values of ~0.5 Wm−1K−1 in comparison to metals (>20 Wm−1K−1). The goal of this work is to enhance thermal conductivity (k) of polyethylene–graphene nanocomposites through simultaneous alignment of polyethylene (PE) lamellae and graphene nanoplatelets (GnP). Alignment is achieved through the application of strain. Measured values are compared with predictions from effective medium theory. A twin conical screw micro compounder is used to prepare polyethylene–graphene nanoplatelet (PE-GnP) composites. Enhancement in k value is studied for two different compositions with GnP content of 9 wt% and 13 wt% and for applied strains ranging from 0% to 300%. Aligned PE-GnP composites with 13 wt% GnP displays ~1000% enhancement in k at an applied strain of 300%, relative to k of pristine unstrained polymer. Laser Scanning Confocal Microscopy (LSCM) is used to quantitatively characterize the alignment of GnP flakes in strained composites; this measured orientation is used as an input for effective medium predictions. These results have important implications for thermal management applications. View Full-Text
Keywords: thermal conductivity; strain; alignment effect; polymers; graphene; nanocomposites thermal conductivity; strain; alignment effect; polymers; graphene; nanocomposites
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Tarannum, F.; Muthaiah, R.; Annam, R.S.; Gu, T.; Garg, J. Effect of Alignment on Enhancement of Thermal Conductivity of Polyethylene–Graphene Nanocomposites and Comparison with Effective Medium Theory. Nanomaterials 2020, 10, 1291.

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