Abstract- Characterization of Boron Nitride Nanotube Polymer Nanocomposites for Thermal Management and Structural Performance Materials

Thermal management of the heat produced in ever smaller electronic components is a significant challenge and often limits the performance of CPU’s and other high-performance electronics. Materials used for this purpose must demonstrate high temperature stability, high thermal conductance, a low coefficient of thermal expansion, and most importantly, must be electrically insulating to avoid short circuiting electronic components. Most polymers can fulfill one or two of the conditions, but often fail at being thermally conductive (0.1-0.5 W/ m·K)−1) (Yung, Xu, & Choy, 2016). Embedding the polymer with a nanofiller such as Carbon Nanotubes (CNT’s) can enhance the polymer’s thermal conductivity, but the chief weakness of CNT’s is that they are electrically conductive, making them an invalid choice for electronic thermal management. This is what makes Boron  Nitride Nanotubes (BNNT’s) such an exciting choice as a nanofiller. They are predicted to rival or outperform CNTs in many aspects, including strength, stiffness, thermal conductivity, thermal stability, and chemical stability. In a study comparing BNNT’s to CNT’s, an epoxy composite loaded with just 5% in weight of BNNT’s (Yung et al., 2016) demonstrated a threefold increase in thermal conductivity . There exists no commercial material currently that demonstrates the same amount of potential in electronic thermal management as BNNT’s

My work this summer  is to synthesize BNNT/polymer nanocomposites with outstanding structural and thermal properties. BNNT’s unique combination of outstanding thermal conductivity (predicted to be up to 3,000 W(m·K)−1), outstanding thermal stability (up to 700 °C in oxygen), and outstanding structural properties rivals or outperforms carbon nanotubes. By adding BNNTs to polymer we can thus synthesize composite materials with unprecedented properties. In this work we aim to learn how to make such composites and then optimize their thermal and structural properties.