Self-constructed tree-shape high thermal conductivity nanosilver networks in epoxy†
We report the formation of high aspect ratio nanoscale tree-shape silver networks in epoxy, at low temperatures (<150 °C) and atmospheric pressures, that are correlated to a ∼200 fold enhancement of thermal conductivity (κ) of the nanocomposite compared to the polymer matrix. The networks form through a three-step process comprising of self-assembly by diffusion limited aggregation of polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) coated nanoparticles, removal of PVP coating from the surface, and sintering of silver nanoparticles in high aspect ratio networked structures. Controlling self-assembly and sintering by carefully designed multistep temperature and time processing leads to κ of our silver nanocomposites that are up to 300% of the present state of the art polymer nanocomposites at similar volume fractions. Our investigation of the κ enhancements enabled by tree-shaped network nanocomposites provides a basis for the development of new polymer nanocomposites for thermal transport and storage applications.