Conductive Polymers – Characterizing Thermal Properties

thermal conductivity polymers

The thermal properties of polymer materials are increasingly being tuned and adjusted to accommodate a wide range of applications, including polymer thermal management systems, thermoset molding or used in extrusion-based additive manufacturing (AM). In each of these applications, the thermal conductivity of polymers is important to quantify and compare with existing technologies. Because polymers can be present in solid, semi-solid or liquid states it is important to be able to understand and quantify the changes that can occur in a given system and how modification to a base-polymer (i.e. additives) can increase or decrease thermal conductivity of polymers.

Thermal transport efficiency in polymers is largely attributed to the quality of the lattice structure (i.e. crystallinity and chain alignment). It can therefore be understood that the degree of organization within the polymer matrix, and the degree of crystallinity of the polymer chains will heavily influence the conductivity your sample. One way to improve crystallinity is through the use of additives which can help to facilitate more organized, continuous pathways during polymer formation. Thermally conductive additives (such as metal particles) can also be employed to improve thermal pathways. The effect of the particles size and the resulting scattering effects all come into play to dictate the overall improvement in thermal transport.

Being able to effectively quantify these improvements is immensely important. The drawback of many instruments is while they can provide high-quality results on one type of material, they may not be suited for others and for polymer materials one sample may be present in various forms along the product development stages. Have multiple tools to address variable sample conditions is always better then trying to make one do it all; especially when the complete analysis is required to fully understand how these changes can occur.

C-Therm’s Trident Platform gives users the ability to test using three different, yet complimentary methods for thermal analysis. The Modified Transient Plane Source (MTPS) is the go-to method for R&D groups as it covers the widest range of material types and has the most accommodating sample size requirements of all available methods. The Transient Plane Source (TPS) is great for porous samples where contact agents cannot be used. TPS also gives the user the most control over test parameters and a valuable tool for samples demonstrating high levels of anisotropy. Transient Line Source (TLS) is the most structurally robust of the three methods, capable of testing melts at elevated temperatures and also applicable for the analysis of granular materials and viscous liquids.

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