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Nanoplatelet Size to Control the Alignment and Thermal Conductivity in Copper–Graphite Composites

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journal contribution
posted on 11.06.2014 by André Boden, Benji Boerner, Patryk Kusch, Izabela Firkowska, Stephanie Reich
A controlled alignment of graphite nanoplatelets in a composite matrix will allow developing materials with tailored thermal properties. Achieving a high degree of alignment in a reproducible way, however, remains challenging. Here we demonstrate the alignment of graphite nanoplatelets in copper composites produced via high-energy ball milling and spark plasma sintering. The orientation of the nanoplatelets in the copper matrix is verified by polarized Raman scattering and electron microscopy showing an increasing order with increasing platelet size. The thermal conductivity k along the alignment direction is up to five times higher than perpendicular to it. The composite with the highest degree of alignment has a thermal diffusivity (100 mm2s–1) comparable to copper (105 mm2s–1) but is 20% lighter. By modeling the thermal properties of the composites within the effective medium approximation we show that (i) the Kapitza resistance is not a limiting factor for improving the thermal conductivity of a copper-graphite system and (ii) copper-graphite-nanoplatelet composites may be expected to achieve a higher thermal conductivity than copper upon further refinement.