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Application of Hybrid Fillers for Improving the Through-Plane Heat Transport in Graphite Nanoplatelet-Based Thermal Interface Layers

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The in-plane alignment of graphite nanoplatelets (GNPs) in thin thermal interface material (TIM) layers suppresses the though-plane heat transport thus limiting the performance of GNPs in the geometry normally required for thermal management applications. Here we report a disruption of the GNP in-plane alignment by addition of spherical microparticles. The degree of GNP alignment was monitored by measurement of the anisotropy of electrical conductivity which is extremely sensitive to the orientation of high aspect ratio filler particles. Scanning Electron Microscopy images of TIM layer cross-sections confirmed the suppression of the in-plane alignment. The hybrid filler formulations reported herein resulted in a synergistic enhancement of the through-plane thermal conductivity of GNP/Al2O3 and GNP/Al filled TIM layers confirming that the control of GNP alignment is an important parameter in the development of highly efficient GNP and graphene-based TIMs.

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