Heat -- Transmission, Nanoparticles -- Thermal properties, Phase transformations (Statistical physics)


A major challenge of developing faster and smaller microelectronic devices is that high flux of heat needs to be removed efficiently to prevent overheating of devices. The conventional way of heat removal using liquid reaches a limit due to low thermal conductivity and limited heat capacity of fluids. Adding solid nanoparticles into fluids has been proposed as a way to enhance thermal conductivity of fluids, but recent results show inconclusive anomalous enhancements in thermal conductivity. A possible way to improve heat transfer is to increase the heat capacity of liquid by adding phase change nanoparticles with large latent heat of fusion into the liquid. Such nanoparticles absorb heat during solid to liquid phase change. However, the colloidal suspension of bare phase change nanoparticles has limited use due to aggregation of molten nanoparticles, irreversible sticking on fluid channels, and dielectric property loss. This dissertation describes a new method to enhance the heat transfer property of a liquid by adding encapsulated phase change nanoparticles (nano-PCMs), which will absorb thermal energy during solid-liquid phase change and release heat during freeze. Specifically, silica encapsulated indium nanoparticles, and polymer encapsulated paraffin (wax) nanoparticles have been prepared using colloidal method, and dispersed into poly-α-olefin (PAO) and water for high temperature and low temperature applications, respectively. The shell, with a higher melting point than the core, can prevent leakage or agglomeration of molten cores, and preserve the dielectric properties of the base fluids. Compared to single phase fluids, heat transfer of nanoparticle-containing fluids have been significantly enhanced due to enhanced heat capacities. The structural integrity of encapsulation allows repeated uses of nanoparticles for many cycles. iv By forming porous semi crystalline silica shells obtained from water glass, supercooling has been greatly reduced due to low energy barrier of heterogeneous nucleation. Encapsulated phase change nanoparticles have also been added into exothermic reaction systems such as catalytic and polymerization reactions to effectively quench local hot spots, prevent thermal runaway, and change product distribution. Specifically, silica-encapsulated indium nanoparticles, and silica encapsulated paraffin (wax) nanoparticles have been used to absorb heat released in catalytic reaction, and to mitigate the gel effect during polymerization, respectively. The reaction rates do not raise significantly owing to thermal buffering using phase change nanoparticles at initial stage of thermal runaway. The effect of thermal buffering depends on latent heats of fusion of nanoparticles, and heat releasing kinetics of catalytic reactions and polymerizations. Micro/nanoparticles of phase change materials will open a new dimension for thermal management of exothermic reactions.


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Graduation Date





Su, Ming


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering








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Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Engineering and Computer Science, Engineering and Computer Science -- Dissertations, Academic

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