There has been much interest in developing polymeric nanocomposites with ultra-high thermal conductivities such as with exfoliated graphite or carbon nanotubes. These materials exhibit thermal conductivity of 3,000 W/mK measured experimentally and up to 6,600 W/mK predicted from theoretical calculations. But when added to polymers, the expected thermal conductivity enhancement is not realized due to poor interfacial thermal transfer.
NASA Langley Research Center has developed a method to create high thermally conductive polymeric composites. Such materials can prove valuable in applications that require efficient, light-weight, and flexible thermal management solutions such as liquid-cooled ventilation garments.
This technology is a method of forming carbon-based fillers to be incorporated into highly thermal conductive nanocomposite materials. Formation methods include treatment of an expanded graphite with an alcohol/water mixture, followed by further exfoliation of the graphite to form extremely thin carbon nanosheets that are on the order of between about 2 and 10 nanometers in thickness. The carbon nanosheets can be functionalized and incorporated as fillers in polymer nanocomposites with extremely high thermal conductivities.
NASA is actively seeking licensees to commercialize this technology. Please contact The Technology Gateway at