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Thermal properties of carbon nanotubes and nanotube-based materials

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The thermal properties of carbon nanotubes are directly related to their unique structure and small size. Because of these properties, nanotubes may prove to be an ideal material for the study of low-dimensional phonon physics, and for thermal management, both on the macro- and the micro-scale. We have begun to explore the thermal properties of nanotubes by measuring the specific heat and thermal conductivity of bulk SWNT samples. In addition, we have synthesized nanotube-based composite materials and measured their thermal conductivity.

The measured specific heat of single-walled nanotubes differs from that of both 2D graphene and 3D graphite, especially at low temperatures, where 1D quantization of the phonon bandstructure is observed. The measured specific heat shows only weak effects of intertube coupling in nanotube bundling, suggesting that this coupling is weaker than expected. The thermal conductivity of nanotubes is large, even in bulk samples: aligned bundles of SWNTs show a thermal conductivity of >200 W/m K at room temperature. A linear K(T) up to approximately 40 K may be due to 1D quantization; measurement of K(T) of samples with different average nanotube diameters supports this interpretation.

Nanotube–epoxy blends show significantly enhanced thermal conductivity, showing that nanotube-based composites may be useful not only for their potentially high strength, but also for their potentially high thermal conductivity.

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Received: 17 October 2001 / Accepted: 3 December 2001 / Published online: 4 March 2002

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Hone, J., Llaguno, M., Biercuk, M. et al. Thermal properties of carbon nanotubes and nanotube-based materials . Appl Phys A 74, 339–343 (2002).

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