In-plane thermal conductivity in thin carbon fiber composites

Carlos Silva, Egidio Marotta, Michael Schuller, Larry Peel, Mark O'Neill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Citations (Scopus)


The objective of this study was to determine whether fiber type, fiber angle, and filler material affected the in-plane thermal conductivity of thin (7-15 mils thickness) carbon fiber composites. Two sets of samples were tested: low thermal conductivity samples made with polyacrylonitrile-based fibers (k = 6.8 W/m · K) in Fiberglast epoxy resin, and high thermal conductivity samples fabricated with coal-pitch-based fibers (k = 620 W/m · K) in cyanate ester resin. Samples were fabricated from 0/90 woven cloths and warped to obtain a range of fiber-pattern angles from 25/ -25 to 65/ -65. The filler effect on thermal conductivity was evaluated on additional samples prepared with 10% volume fraction of graphite powder in the matrix. Thermal conductivity of the low thermal conductivity samples was in the range of 15-20 W/m · K and showed up to a 15% improvement when the angle of the fibers was varied. High thermal conductivity samples showed thermal conductivities between 60 and 150 W/m · K, with an improvement up to 60% when the angle of the fibers relative to the heat flux direction was changed from 0/90 to 25/ -25. The samples with graphite powder did not show any enhancement in thermal performance. As potential alternatives, unidirectional tape and eGraf's Spreadershield® foils were also tested, showing good thermal performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)460-467
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Thermophysics and Heat Transfer
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2007
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics

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