Anisotropic Thermal and Electrical Properties of Thin Thermal Interface Layers of Graphite Nanoplatelet-Based Composites
Thermal interface materials (TIMs) are crucial components of high density electronics and the high thermal conductivity of graphite makes this material an attractive candidate for such applications. We report an investigation of the in-plane and through-plane electrical and thermal conductivities of thin thermal interface layers of graphite nanoplatelet (GNP) based composites. The in-plane electrical conductivity exceeds its through-plane counterpart by three orders of magnitude, whereas the ratio of the thermal conductivities is about 5. Scanning electron microscopy reveals that the anisotropy in the transport properties is due to the in-plane alignment of the GNPs which occurs during the formation of the thermal interface layer. Because the alignment in the thermal interface layer suppresses the through-plane component of the thermal conductivity, the anisotropy strongly degrades the performance of GNP-based composites in the geometry required for typical thermal management applications and must be taken into account in the development of GNP-based TIMs.