Thermal diffusivity modulation driven by the interfacial elastic dynamics between cellulose nanofibers†
Thermal transport modulating materials show great potential to address the heat problems in a wide range of engineering fields. However, tuning the thermal conductivity of solid-state materials is practically difficult because it requires specific or extreme stimulation, such as chemical composition change, a phase transition, or large applied fluctuations, to change the internal bulk structures. Here, we report reversible switching of the in-plane thermal diffusivity of densely packed cellulose nanofiber (CNF) films by ∼15% by simple mechanical strain as small as 0.3%. From analysis of the stress relaxation profiles and the different bulk densities of the CNF films, the interfacial elastic dynamics between the strongly hydrogen bonded CNFs were found to exhibit thermal diffusivity modulation by tuning the interfacial thermal resistance, rather than changing the bulk structure of the CNFs. Our concept of interfacial-elasticity-driven thermal diffusivity switching has the potential to enhance the on/off rate and extensibility toward practical use owing to the high designability of the interfacial conditions.