, Volume 85, Issue 1, pp 235-238
Date: 03 Jul 2006

Thermal conductivity of exfoliated graphite nanocomposites

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Since the late 1990’s, research has been reported where intercalated, expanded, and/or exfoliated graphite nanoflakes could also be used as reinforcements in polymer systems. The key point to utilizing graphite as a platelet nanoreinforcement is in the ability to exfoliate graphite using Graphite Intercalated Compounds (GICs). Natural graphite is still abundant and its cost is quite low compared to the other nano–size carbon materials, the cost of producing graphite nanoplatelets is expected to be ~$5/lb. This is significantly less expensive than single wall nanotubes (SWNT) (>$45000/lb) or vapor grown carbon fiber (VGCF) ($40–50/lb), yet the mechanical, electrical, and thermal properties of crystalline graphite flakes are comparable to those of SWNT and VGCF. The use of exfoliated graphite flakes (xGnP) opens up many new applications where electromagnetic shielding, high thermal conductivity, gas barrier resistance or low flammability are required.

A special thermal treatment was developed to exfoliate graphite flakes for the production of nylon and high density polypropylene nanocomposites. X-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) were used to assess the degree of exfoliation of the graphite platelets and the morphology of the nanocomposites. The thermal conductivity of these composites was investigated by three different methods, namely, by DSC, modified hot wire, and halogen flash lamp methods. The addition of small amounts of exfoliated graphite flakes showed a marked improvement in thermal and electrical conductivity of the composites.