There is an ever-increasing focus on ensuring the thermal management and electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding of electronic equipment.
Study: Highly thermally conductive and EMI shielding composite reinforced with aligned carbon fibers and MXene. Image Credit: Zita/Shutterstock.com
In a paper published in the journal Synthetic Metals, strong thermal conduction and EMI shielding capabilities were achieved in a composite material through the vertical alignment of carbon fibers in a perpendicular magnetic field.
Thermal Management and EMI Shielding in Electronics
Electronic equipment like communication antennas, home electronics, and cell phones generate electromagnetic (EM) radiation. This radiation causes disruptions in electronic equipment and is known as electromagnetic interference (EMI). Prolonged exposure to EMI can also be hazardous to human health.
When electronic devices are operated, heat and EM radiation build up inside their components, compromising the performance of precision tools and endangering the well-being of the user.
A device for protecting against electromagnetic fields (EMFs) is critical for limiting adverse effects on users, preventing malfunction of electronic equipment, and reducing disturbances in communication signals.
There is increasing emphasis on utilizing thermal interface materials for efficient heat dispersion. These materials would ensure the protection of electronic equipment through proper thermal management.
Electromagnetic wave energy is slowly absorbed or released as heat inside the material, offering a synergized effect if the material shows good thermal conduction and EMI shielding capability.
Continuous developments in EMI shielding materials with good thermal conduction are required. Polymeric composites are appealing options because they are inexpensive, versatile, and lightweight.
A polymeric framework may be filled with a thermally and electrically conducting filler to improve the material's thermal characteristics and EMI shielding efficiency (SE).
Developing an Effective Path for Thermal Conduction
Vertically aligning the heat conducting fillers has been investigated as a viable technique for improving the thermal conduction of polymeric composites. The heat conduction of 1D pillars is axially much greater than it is vertically.
Scientists have tried to create a heat conducting composite material by coating the surface of the filler with Fe3O4 and creating an efficient heat conduction channel using a magnetic field.
Carbon fibers, compared to other heat conducting fillers, show stronger thermal conduction in the axial direction, smaller mass density, and comparable mechanical qualities to ceramics and metals.
How Can MXenes Help?
MXenes are unique 2D materials that have recently been developed. MXenes denote 2D carbides and carbonitrides of transition metals.
MXenes have distinct 2D layered structures and large specific areas and good electrical, thermal, mechanical, and adsorptive characteristics.
The remarkable electrical conduction and capacity to store electrochemical energy have made MXenes the focus of current research in renewable energy.
MXenes may aid in managing EM radiation pollution because of their characteristic 2D lamellar structure and excellent electrical conductivity.
The Focus of the Research
The team attempted to increase the heat conduction of the polymeric composite in the through-plane direction in this study by decorating the carbon fiber surface with Fe3O4 and using a magnetic field to align the filler.
MXene was introduced in parallel with the developed thermal channel and was distributed with an epoxy matrix between the vertical pathways to create an EMI shielding interface.
The team predicted that adding MXene and fortifying the carbon fiber structure would boost heat conduction. At the same time, the EMI shielding effect of the electrically conductive MXene would increase the EMI shielding efficiency.
The team discovered that the through-plane thermal conduction was improved by applying a magnetic field to a polymeric composite adorned with Fe3O4 nanoparticles on the carbon fiber surface. The magnetic field aligned the filler in the vertical direction.
The composite contained MXene, which demonstrated outstanding EMI shielding capability. A functional polymeric composite was therefore developed.
The filler of the polymeric composite displayed excellent thermal conduction when the two magnets were aligned in the same direction during the thermal curing process. The thermal conduction was improved by the vertical alignment.
Morphological investigations revealed the effective development of the vertical filler network. Moreover, the manufactured composite showed remarkable EMI shielding efficiency.
The vertically aligned structure presented in the study may aid in developing multipurpose composite materials with high thermal conductance and EMI shielding capabilities.
Lee, S., Park, D., Cho, Y., Lee, J., & Kim, J. (2022). Highly thermally conductive and EMI shielding composite reinforced with aligned carbon fibers and MXene. Synthetic Metals. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.synthmet.2022.117183