Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Boron nanoribbons reveal surprising thermal properties in bundles

21.12.2011
Size matters… but apparently so does shape – when it comes to conducting heat in very small spaces.

Researchers looking at the thermal conductivity of boron nanoribbons have found that they have unusual heat-transfer properties when compared to other wire/tube-like nanomaterials. While past experiments have shown that bundles of non-metallic nanostructures are less effective in conducting heat energy than single nanostructures, a new study shows that bundling boron nanoribbons can have the opposite effect and "the thermal conductivity of a bundle of boron nanoribbons can be significantly higher than that of a single free-standing nanoribbon," according to a report in Nature Nanotechnology, published online on December 11.

The finding is the result of work by a multidisciplinary team headed by Ravi Prasher of the Advanced Research Projects Agency, Terry Xu of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and Deyu Li of Vanderbilt University (see a complete list of authors below).

Additionally, the researchers found that the unusual heat-transfer properties of boron nanoribbon bundles can be modified, allowing the higher thermal conductivity to be switched on and off through relatively simple physical manipulation. The study concludes that the ribbon structure of the nanomaterials is strongly related to the unusual thermal conductivity of the bundles.

Boron-based nanostructures are a promising class of high temperature thermoelectric materials -- substances that can convert waste heat to useful electricity – and thermal conductivity is related to other thermoelectric properties. Physicists describe the transmission of heat energy in materials like boron as happening through the conduction of "phonons," quasi-wave-particles that carry energy through excitations of the material's atoms.

"What we found was largely unexpected," said Xu. "When two nanoribbons were put together, the thermal conductivity was found to rise significantly rather than staying the same or going down, as has been the case in previous measurements. It has been assumed that phonons were hampered by the interface between the individual nanostructures in similar materials.

"That seems to mean that the phonon can pass effectively through the interface between two boron nanoribbons," she said. "The question is whether or not this result is due to the weak van der Waals interactions between two nanostructures of ultra-flat geometry."

The team suspects that the reason for the enhanced thermal conductivity is due in large part to the flat surface structure of the nanoribbons, based on another experimental result that the group discovered by accident.

The nanoribbon bundles exhibiting the unexpectedly higher thermal conductivity were originally prepared in a solution of reagent alcohol and water, which was then allowed to evaporate, leaving some nanoribbons drawn together by van der Waals force (the weak attraction that non reactive and uncharged substances can have for each other). When other members of the team attempted to duplicate this result, however, the experiment failed and the bundles only had the lower thermal conductivity of single ribbons. The researchers then noted that a significant difference between the two attempts was that the second experiment had used isopropyl alcohol rather than reagent alcohol in the solution. Since isopropyl alcohol was known to leave minute residue following evaporation, the researchers suspected that a residue was forming on the ribbons surfaces – a fact that microscopy confirmed -- and the residue apparently prevented tight contact between two nanoribbons. Further tests were made on the lower-conducting bundles, where the ribbon interfaces were washed with reagent alcohol to remove the isopropyl residue, and in this experiment the higher thermal conductivity was achieved.

The results point to the conclusion that boron nanoribbons form better heat-conducting bundles because the ribbons flat surfaces allow for tighter, more complete contact between the individual structures through van der Waals interaction and improved transmission of phonons overall.

"The result implies that achieving a tight van der Waals interface between the ribbons is important in thermal conductivity, something their geometry encourages," Xu said. "It is possible that this result may have implications for other materials with ribbon-based nanostructures."

Xu notes that there are potential engineering applications for the finding come not just from the improved thermal conductivity of boron nanoribbon bundles, but also from the reversible nature of the effect.

"This may lead to a simple way to switch the thermal conductivity of the bundle on and off," she said. "If you want more heat dissipated, but only in certain conditions, you can apply a solution to create a bundle structure with tight bonds and higher thermal conductivity. It could similarly be reversed by adding a residue between the nanoribbons and reducing the thermal conductivity to that of an individual ribbon."

The finding appears in a letter to Nature Nanotechnology. The authors are Juekuan Yang, Yang Yang, Scott Waltermire and Deyu Li from Vanderbilt University; Xiaoxia Wu, Haitao Zhang, Timothy Gutu, Youfei Jiang, and Terry Xu from UNC Charlotte; Yunfei Chen from Southwest University in Nanjing, China; Alfred Zinn from Lockheed Martin Space Systems and Ravi Prasher from the Advanced Research Projects Agency in the US Department of Energy. This research was funded by the National Science Foundation and Lockheed Martin.

James Hathaway | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uncc.edu

More articles from Interdisciplinary Research:

nachricht Bergamotene - alluring and lethal for Manduca sexta
21.04.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie

nachricht How to color a lizard: From biology to mathematics
13.04.2017 | Université de Genève

All articles from Interdisciplinary Research >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Abrupt motion sharpens x-ray pulses

Spectrally narrow x-ray pulses may be “sharpened” by purely mechanical means. This sounds surprisingly, but a team of theoretical and experimental physicists developed and realized such a method. It is based on fast motions, precisely synchronized with the pulses, of a target interacting with the x-ray light. Thereby, photons are redistributed within the x-ray pulse to the desired spectral region.

A team of theoretical physicists from the MPI for Nuclear Physics (MPIK) in Heidelberg has developed a novel method to intensify the spectrally broad x-ray...

Im Focus: Physicists Design Ultrafocused Pulses

Physicists working with researcher Oriol Romero-Isart devised a new simple scheme to theoretically generate arbitrarily short and focused electromagnetic fields. This new tool could be used for precise sensing and in microscopy.

Microwaves, heat radiation, light and X-radiation are examples for electromagnetic waves. Many applications require to focus the electromagnetic fields to...

Im Focus: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New 3-D imaging reveals how human cell nucleus organizes DNA and chromatin of its genome

28.07.2017 | Health and Medicine

Heavy metals in water meet their match

28.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Oestrogen regulates pathological changes of bones via bone lining cells

28.07.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>