National Physical Laboratory

Micro-thermophysical properties measurement

Project Aim: To develop the UK's first validated thermal properties measurement capability for micro and nano scale materials and thin films.

This project will enable the characterisation and design of improved multiphase, micro-structured and surface engineered materials, e.g. thermoelectric devices, enabling the development of new and improved products. It will enable device designers to model and manufacture reliable high-density electronics, polymer electronics, optical and telecommunications devices with improved performance and thermal management.

A nanothermal probe facility has been established at NPL and qualitative thermophysical properties measurements have been made on composite and polymeric materials. As a first step in the development of a quantitative technique, modelling of the heat loss associated with the probe/tip interaction has been carried out. Further parameters affecting heat transfer at the probe tip/surface are being considered.

Temperature calibration of the nanothermal probe using known thermal transitions of materials has been carried out. Measurements of the glass transition temperature of polymeric materials have been made and a quantitative method is being developed.

An AFM thermal probe coupled with microheater measurement platform device has been developed to provide high heating rate, microscale thermal measurements and is being tested. This device has been designed for quantitative thermal analysis of materials, e.g. for thermoelectric technologies, micro moulding of polymers, and organic electronics. The underpinning validation capability that gives end users confidence in the data from micro thermal analysis techniques and equipment is also being developed as part of this project. This capability will be used to validate the developed AFM thermal probe-microheater measurement platform device.

Through integration of the high-rate heating platform with the AFM-SThM, a versatile thermal analysis capability for studying materials thermal properties behaviour is being created.

Benefits include:

  • The detection of hot spots in organic electronic devices thereby leading to improved design and thermal management, and improved reliability.
  • The identification of non-homogeneity in micro-moulded parts and films enabling the design of improved multiphase, micro-structured and surface engineered polymeric products e.g. lenses with nanometre scale features and micro-moulded gear assemblies.
Figure 1: Scanning thermal probe images of carbon fibre  / epoxy resin composites (Left: Conductivity Contrast Mode  |  Right: Temperature Contrast Mode)
Figure 1: Scanning thermal probe images of carbon fibre / epoxy resin composites
(Left: Conductivity Contrast Mode | Right: Temperature Contrast Mode)

 

Figure 2: Comparison of AFM thermal probe response in passive and active modes with experimentally measured reference standard transition behaviours
Figure 2: Comparison of AFM thermal probe response in passive and active modes with
experimentally measured reference standard transition behaviours

 

Figure 3: MEMS-based high rate heater platform
Figure 3: MEMS-based high rate heater platform

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Last Updated: 18 Aug 2016
Created: 25 Feb 2013

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