Polymer Films Lead to Flexible Heat Sinks

Polymer Films Lead to Flexible Heat Sinks
Polymer films able to conduct heat without trapping it could lead to lighter cars and electronics.

Developed by a team from MIT, the films are made up of a common polyethylene powder that has been dissolved in a solvent that causes the material’s coiled molecular knots to straighten. That solution was then sent through a customized device that smoothed the tangled chains even more and delivered the liquid to a cooling plate, where it was stretched into a thin film. According to the researchers, the straightened molecular chains transfer thermal energy much more efficiently than their tangled counterparts, resulting in a thin, flexible material able to conduct heat a 60W per meter per kelvin (compared to steel at 15W).

Image: Gang Chen et al - By mixing polymer powder in solution to generate a film that they then stretched, MIT researchers have changed polyethylene’s microstructure, from spaghetti-like clumps of molecular chains (left), to straighter strands (right), allowing heat to conduct through the polymer, better than most metals.

Polymer Films Lead to Flexible Heat Sinks

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