Chain conformation-dependent thermal conductivity of amorphous polymer blends: the impact of inter- and intra-chain interactions

XF Wei and T Zhang and TF Luo, PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 18, 32146-32154 (2016).

DOI: 10.1039/c6cp06643g

Polymers with high thermal conductivities are of great interest for both scientific research and industrial applications. In this study, model amorphous polymer blends are studied using molecular dynamics simulations. We have examined the effects of inter- and intra-chain interactions on the molecular-level conformations of the blends, which in turn impact their thermal conductivity. It is found that the thermal conductivity of polymer blends is strongly related to the molecular conformation, especially the spatial extent of the molecular chains indicated by their radius of gyration. Tuning the intra-chain van der Waals (vdW) interaction leads to different molecular structures of the minor component in the binary blend, but the thermal conductivity is not changed. However, increasing the inter- chain vdW interactions between the major and the minor components will increase the thermal conductivity of the blend, which is due to the conformation change in the major component that leads to enhanced thermal transport along the chain backbone through the intra-chain bonding interactions. The fundamental structure-property relationship from this study may provide useful guidance for designing and synthesizing polymer blends with desirable thermal conductivity.

Return to Publications page