Date of Award:

5-2018

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Advisor/Chair:

Heng Ban

Abstract

Graphene is a form of carbon with unique thermal and structural properties, giving it high potential in many applications, from electronics to driveway heating. Advanced fabrication techniques putting small, graphene-like structures in a polymer matrix could allow for incorporation of some of the benefits of graphene into very lightweight materials, and allow for broader commercialization. Measuring the thermal properties of these thin-film samples is a technical capability in need of development for use with the specific specimens used in this study. Relating those thermal properties to the microstructural composition was the focus of this work.

Several conclusions could be drawn from this study which will help guide future development efforts. Among these findings, it was found that increasing carbon content only improves thermal and electrical conductivity if the samples were of low porosity. Samples of approximately identical overall carbon content and void content had higher thermal conductivity if some carbon nanotubes were added in place of graphite. Nanotubes also appeared to reduce variability in thermal conductivity between pressed and unpressed samples, allowing for more predictable properties in fabrication.

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