Geometry and temperature effects of the interfacial thermal conductance in copper- and nickel-graphene nanocomposites

SW Chang and AK Nair and MJ Buehler, JOURNAL OF PHYSICS-CONDENSED MATTER, 24, 245301 (2012).

DOI: 10.1088/0953-8984/24/24/245301

Graphene has excellent mechanical, electrical and thermal properties. Recently, graphene-metal composites have been proposed as a means to combine the properties of metals with those of graphene, leading to mechanically, electrically and thermally functional materials. The understanding of metal-graphene nanocomposites is of critical importance in developing next-generation electrical, thermal and energy devices, but we currently lack a fundamental understanding of how their geometry and composition control their thermal properties. Here we report a series of atomistic simulations, aimed at assessing the geometry and temperature effects of the thermal interface conductance for copper-and nickel-graphene nanocomposites. We find that copper-graphene and nickel- graphene nanocomposites have similar thermal interface conductances, but that both cases show a strong performance dependence on the number of graphene layers between metal phases. Single-graphene-layer nanocomposites have the highest thermal interface conductance, approaching similar to 500 MW m(-2) K-1. The thermal interface conductance reduces to half this value in metal-bilayer graphene nanocomposites, and for more than three layers of graphene the thermal interface conductances further reduces to similar to 100 MW m(-2) K-1 and becomes independent with respect to the number of layers of graphene. This dependence is attributed to the relatively stronger bonding between the metal and graphene layer, and relatively weaker bonding between graphene layers. Our results suggest that designs combining metal with single graphene layers provide the best thermal properties.

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