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Highly Thermally Conductive Polymers (invited presentation)

G. Chen
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US

Keywords: polymers, MD simulation, polyethylene


Polymers are generally known to have a low thermal conductivity, but, contrary to conventional wisdom, a single polymer chain can have a very high thermal conductivity. This talk will present our theoretical and experimental studies on the thermal conductivity and heat conduction mechanisms in polymer chains and nanofibers. Our molecular dynamics simulation suggests that the thermal conductivity of individual polyethylene chains may be divergent, consistent with the 1D conductor idea. Inspired by the simulation results, we drew polyethylene nanofibers and measured their thermal conductivity as a function of their draw ratio. A thermal conductivity values as high as ~104 W/m.K was measured, which is 300 times higher than bulk polyethylene and is more conductive than most metals. These studies suggest that we can potentially develop high thermal conductivity polymers for a wide range applications.
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