Enhancement of thermal interface materials with carbon nanotube arrays

Jun Xu, School of Mechanical Engineering and Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University
Timothy Fisher, Birck Nanotechnology Center and School of Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University

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This paper describes an experimental study of thermal contact conductance enhancement enabled by carbon nanotube (CNT) arrays synthesized directly on silicon wafers using plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition. Testing based on the one-dimensional reference bar method occurred in a high-vacuum environment with radiation shielding, and temperature measurements were made with an infrared camera. Results from other thermal interface materials are presented, as well as combinations of these materials with CNT arrays. Dry CNT arrays produce a minimum thermal interface resistance of 19.8 mm2 K/W, while the combination of a CNT array and a phase change material produces a minimum resistance of 5.2 mm2 K/W.