Sponsors: ONR, SRC, NSF, IBM

Heat conduction in polymer thin films and related deformation phenomena play a central role in modern manufacturing technologies, semiconductor processing, and data storage. Applications range from flexible electronics and organic light emitting devices to novel polymer-based biomedical components. Polymers have very low thermal conductivities, and typically govern the temperature differences in the engineering systems where they are found.

This work developed measurement techniques for the thermal conductivities in polymer films and studies the molecular-level physics governing heat conduction and deformation. Early work measured the thermal conductivity anisotropy using a suspended bridge structure and modeled the impact of molecular orientation on the anisotropy ratio. Subsequent studies determined the impact of localized electron-beam absorption on temperature fields in polymers, for applications in resist processing, by means of transient heat conduction analysis. In more recent work, we studied nanoscale polymer deformation during data storage using an AFM-type tip with elevated temperature. The deformation physics are highly nonlinear and the fluid mechanics non-Newtonian and are strongly coupled to the temperature distribution and heat conduction in the film.