An Al matrix composite reinforced with 40 vol% graphite flake (G(f)) was developed by powder metallurgy as a promising candidate for thermal management applications. Thermal conductivity (TC) along the orientation direction of the composite sintered at 640 degrees C was measured to be 452 W/m K, which is approximate to the highest TC value theoretically predicted by effective medium approximation model. The three underlying mechanisms responsible for such TC enhancement were clarified in terms of microstructure characterization. First, heat treatment of as-received G(f) under Ar + H-2 atmosphere resulted in reduction of defects on the edge contributing to improvement of interface thermal exchange efficiency between Al and G(f). Second, image analysis quantitatively confirmed that a step-by-step die filling process using the spherical powder ensures the perfect orientation of G(f) in the Al matrix. Third, it was found that the TC of the composite increases with the sintering temperature from 580 to 640 degrees C. The formation of a small amount of fine platelet-like Al4C3 at the interface between the side surface of G(f) and Al matrix indicates the desirable bonding state for minimizing interfacial thermal resistance, beneficial for the overall TC enhancement. Besides, the relevant coefficient of thermal expansion and bending strength were discussed.
Tailoring the microstructure of an oriented graphite flake/Al composite produced by powder metallurgy for achieving high thermal conductivity
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