Direct measurements of thermal transport in glass and ceramic microspheres embedded in an epoxy matrix

Matthew F. Thompson, Xuewang Wu, Dingbin Huang, Yingying Zhang, Nicholas C.A. Seaton, Chi Zhang, Matthew T. Johnson, Jacob P. Podkaminer, Victor Ho, Xiaojia Wang

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The time-domain thermoreflectance metrology is applied to evaluate the thermal conductivities of filler particles embedded in a composite matrix. Specifically, a system of glass and ceramic microspheres with a diameter of 100 to 150 μm embedded in an epoxy matrix was used as a representation of a typical composite thermal interface material (TIM) suitable for microelectronics applications. These measurements provide a direct characterization of the thermal properties of filler materials. The measured thermal conductivities of both borosilicate glass and yttria stabilized zirconia microspheres agree well with literature values for bulk materials, whereas the thermal conductivity of the alumina microspheres is nearly 50% lower than that of bulk crystals. The reduction in thermal conductivity of the alumina microspheres highlights how important this level of understanding is for TIM development and is attributed to enhanced phonon scattering due to structural heterogeneity, such as defects induced by phase mixing and microvoids. Combining sample preparation, structural characterization, and direct thermal measurements, our study reveals the structure-thermal property relationship for individual microspheres. The results of this work can facilitate the design and engineering of composite-based thermally conductive materials for thermal management applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number023904
JournalApplied Physics Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 12 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the 3M Foundation. X.W.W. and Y.Y.Z. thank the support from the National Science Foundation (NSF, Award No. 1804840). Parts of the work were carried out in the Characterization Facility of the University of Minnesota, which is partially supported by the NSF through the MRSEC program (Award No. DMR-2011401).

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© 2021 Author(s).

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