Moran, Jeffrey L.; Cottrill, Anton L.; Benck, Jesse D.; Liu, Pingwei; Yuan, Zhe; Strano, Michael S.; Buongiorno, Jacopo(RSC Advances, Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), 2018)[Article]
Closed-cell foams are widely applied as insulation and essential for the thermal management of protective garments for extreme environments. In this work, we develop and demonstrate a strategy for drastically reducing the thermal conductivity of a flexible, closed-cell polychloroprene foam to 0.031 ± 0.002 W m−1 K−1, approaching values of an air gap (0.027 W m−1 K−1) for an extended period of time (>10 hours), within a material capable of textile processing. Ultra-insulating neoprene materials are synthesized using high-pressure processing at 243 kPa in a high-molecular-weight gas environment, such as Ar, Kr, or Xe. A Fickian diffusion model describes both the mass infusion and thermal conductivity reduction of the foam as a function of processing time, predicting a 24–72 hour required exposure time for full charging of a 6 mm thick 5 cm diameter neoprene sample. These results enable waterproof textile insulation that approximates a wearable air gap. We demonstrate a wetsuit made of ultra-low thermally conductive neoprene capable of potentially extending dive times to 2–3 hours in water below 10 °C, compared with <1 hour for the state-of-the-art. This work introduces the prospect of effectively wearing a flexible air gap for thermal protection in harsh environments.
Cottrill, Anton L.; Liu, Albert Tianxiang; Kunai, Yuichiro; Koman, Volodymyr B.; Kaplan, Amir; Mahajan, Sayalee G.; Liu, Pingwei; Toland, Aubrey R.; Strano, Michael S.(Nature Communications, Springer Nature, 2018-02-14)[Article]
Materials science has made progress in maximizing or minimizing the thermal conductivity of materials; however, the thermal effusivity—related to the product of conductivity and capacity—has received limited attention, despite its importance in the coupling of thermal energy to the environment. Herein, we design materials that maximize the thermal effusivity by impregnating copper and nickel foams with conformal, chemical-vapor-deposited graphene and octadecane as a phase change material. These materials are ideal for ambient energy harvesting in the form of what we call thermal resonators to generate persistent electrical power from thermal fluctuations over large ranges of frequencies. Theory and experiment demonstrate that the harvestable power for these devices is proportional to the thermal effusivity of the dominant thermal mass. To illustrate, we measure persistent energy harvesting from diurnal frequencies, extracting as high as 350 mV and 1.3 mW from approximately 10 °C diurnal temperature differences.
Cottrill, Anton L.; Wang, Song; Liu, Albert Tianxiang; Wang, Wen-Jun; Strano, Michael S.(Advanced Energy Materials, Wiley, 2018-01-15)[Article]
Thermal diodes are materials that allow for the preferential directional transport of heat and are highly promising devices for energy conservation, energy harvesting, and information processing applications. One form of a thermal diode consists of the junction between a phase change and phase invariant material, with rectification ratios that scale with the square root of the ratio of thermal conductivities of the two phases. In this work, the authors introduce and analyse the concept of a Dual Phase Change Thermal Diode (DPCTD) as the junction of two phase change materials with similar phase boundary temperatures but opposite temperature coefficients of thermal conductivity. Such systems possess a significantly enhanced optimal scaling of the rectification ratio as the square root of the product of the thermal conductivity ratios. Furthermore, the authors experimentally design and fabricate an ambient DPCTD enabled by the junction of an octadecane-impregnated polystyrene foam, polymerized using a high internal phase emulsion template (PFH-O) and a poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAM) aqueous solution. The DPCTD shows a significantly enhanced thermal rectification ratio both experimentally (2.6) and theoretically (2.6) as compared with ideal thermal diodes composed only of the constituent materials.
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