Yanfei Xu, an assistant professor in the Mechanical & Industrial Engineering Department and an adjunct assistant professor in the Chemical Engineering Department, is the lead author on a collaborative paper published in Composites Communications - Elsevier. In this peer-reviewed paper, Dr. Xu and her two co-authors discuss the perspectives of highly thermally conductive polymers and polymer-based composites for thermal management applications.
Xu’s collaborators are Professors Xiaojia Wang from University of Minnesota and Qing Hao from the University of Arizona.
The worldwide semiconductor industry has acknowledged that Moore's law is nearing its end. One major issue is that vast amounts of waste heat generated during device operation leads to overheating problems.
As Xu and her co-authors write, “Effective cooling of electronics is critical for device performance and safety. Polymers have been widely used in electronics thanks to their unparalleled properties such as light weight, electrical insulator, and easy processing, but there could be potential overheating problems because common polymers are thermally insulating. In answer to this challenge, turning thermally insulating polymers into thermal conductors will provide new opportunities for better thermal management applications.”
Xu adds that “From the fundamental perspective, developing polymers with high thermal conductivity requires a deep understanding of the thermal transport mechanisms in polymers.”
According to Xu, “We are exploring the relationships between thermal transport properties in polymers and chain structures at multiscale levels ranging from the atomic level and the nanoscale level to the microscale level and the macroscale level.”
As Xu explains, “From the application perspective, we note that polymers with simultaneously high thermal conductivity and high melting temperatures are desirable for thermal management applications such as corrosion-resistant polymeric heat exchangers.”
Xu is also special issue editor for the Processes peer-reviewed journal, which calls for advanced manufacturing polymers for thermal management applications in the special issue “Advanced Polymer Processing Processes.” (February 2021)