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Apparatus Measures Thermal Conductance Through a Thin Sample From Cryogenic to Room Temperature

An apparatus allows the measurement of the thermal conductance across a thin sample clamped between metal plates, including thermal boundary resistances. It allows in-situ variation of the clamping force from zero to 30 lb (133.4 N), and variation of the sample temperature between 40 and 300 K. It has a special design feature that minimizes the effect of thermal radiation on this measurement.

The apparatus includes a heater plate sandwiched between two identical thin samples. On the side of each sample opposite the heater plate is a cold plate. In order to take data, the heater plate is controlled at a slightly higher temperature than the two cold plates, which are controlled at a single lower temperature. The steady-state controlling power supplied to the hot plate, the area and thickness of the samples, and the temperature drop across the samples are then used in a simple calculation of the thermal conductance.

The conductance measurements can be taken at arbitrary temperatures down to about 40 K, as the entire setup is cooled by a mechanical cryocooler. The specific geometry combined with the pneumatic clamping force control system and the steady-state temperature control approach make this a unique apparatus.

This work was done by James G. Tuttle of Goddard Space Flight Center. For further information, contact the Goddard Innovative Partnerships Office at (301) 286-5810. GSC-15698-1