In situ formation of a cellular graphene framework in thermoplastic composites leading to superior thermal conductivity
Based on the fast growth of the device performance, there has been an increasing demand for handling the issue of thermal management in electronic equipments. Therefore, it is of great significance to improve the thermal conductivity of thermoplastics, which are commonly used in electronic components. However, the difficulty of graphene dispersion and strong interfacial phonon scattering restrict the heat dissipation performance of graphene/thermoplastic composites, especially in the case of polypropylene (PP) or polyethylene (PE). Here, we propose a single-step and versatile approach to fabricate graphene/thermoplastic composites with a remarkable thermal conductivity enhancement. The composites were prepared by coating graphene on polymer powder first, followed by hot pressing. As a result, an interconnected graphene framework can be developed in the thermoplastic matrix, leading to significant heat transfer enhancement of the composites. At a 10 wt% graphene content, the thermal conductivity reaches 1.84, 1.53, 1.43, and 1.47 W m−1 K−1 for PE, PP, PVA (poly(vinyl alcohol)), and PVDF (poly(vinylidene fluoride)) composites, respectively. Our finding provides a path to develop a variety of highly thermally conductive thermoplastic composites for use in heat dissipation and other thermal applications.