(Invited) Colloidal Nanocrystal Composites with High and Low Thermal Conductivity

Tuesday, October 13, 2015: 16:30
Remington C (Hyatt Regency)
R. Wang (Arizona State University)
We present our work on thermal transport in colloidal nanocrystal composites within the context of thermoelectrics and thermal energy management. Colloidal nanocrystals consist of an inorganic crystalline core with short ligand molecules bound to the surface. These nanocrystals can be made with excellent control over size, shape, and composition, thereby enabling microstructural control over thermal energy transport.

Our first two topics focus on low thermal conductivity materials for thermoelectricity: semiconductor nanocrystal thin films and semiconductor matrix – semiconductor nanoparticle composites. Our last topic focuses on metal matrix – metal nanoparticle composites with high thermal conductivity, which can be used to thermally manage transient power spikes in high power electronics.

For the first topic, we systematically study the effect of nanocrystal diameter and surface chemistry on thermal transport in lead chalcogenide nanocrystal thin films. These samples exhibit very low thermal conductivities ranging from 0.1 to 0.5 W/m-K and we find that larger nanocrystals and shorter ligands generally lead to higher thermal conductivities. Our measurements also show that the effect of surface chemistry on thermal transport becomes more pronounced as nanocrystal diameter decreases.

For the second topic, we focus on polycrystalline In2Se3 matrices with embedded CdSe nanocrystals ranging from 0 to ~100 vol%. We find that the thermal conductivities of these composites are very low over the entire nanocrystal volume fraction range and vary from 0.3 to 0.5 W/m-K. We also find that the presence of CdSe nanocrystals strongly effects the formation of the In2Se3 matrix (i.e. grain orientation and size as well as ternary phase formation).

Lastly, we present our work on phase change Bi nanocrystals embedded in a solid Ag-matrix. The latent heat of the phase change Bi nanocrystals can absorb large quantities of transient heat generated during power spikes in power electronics operation. In addition, fast thermal energy transport is facilitated by the Ag-matrix, which leads to high composite thermal conductivities ranging from 101 to 102 W/m-K. We also use size-dependent melting of the phase change nanocrystals as a design variable for the thermal energy absorption temperature.