Molecular tail chemistry controls thermal transport in fullerene films

A Giri and SS Chou and DE Drury and KQ Tomko and D Olson and JT Gaskins and B Kaehr and PE Hopkins, PHYSICAL REVIEW MATERIALS, 4, 065404 (2020).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevMaterials.4.065404

We report on the thermal conductivities of alkyl- and indene-group functionalized fullerene derivative thin films as measured via time domain thermoreflectance and steady state thermoreflectance. The thermal conductivities vary from 0.064 +/- 0.007 W m(-1) K-1 for 6,6-phenyl C-61-butyric acid methyl ester (PCBM) to 0.15 +/- 0.017 W m(-1) K-1 for indene-C-60 bisadduct at room temperature and do not exhibit significant temperature dependence from 300 to 375 K. In comparison to the thermal conductivity of PCBM, increasing the length of the alkyl chain, as in the case of 6,6-phenyl C-61-butyric acid butyl ester, and 6,6-phenyl C-61-butyric acid octyl ester leads to higher thermal conductivities. Likewise, increasing the number of alkyl chains attached to the fullerenes as in the case of bisadduct PCBM leads to a higher thermal conductivity compared to that of PCBM. We present atomistic insights into the role of chemical functionalization on the overall heat transfer in these fullerene derivatives by conducting molecular dynamics simulations and lattice dynamics calculations. The thermal conductivities predicted via our atomistic simulations qualitatively agree with the experimental trends for our fullerene derivatives. Lattice dynamics calculations reveal that one of the main factors dictating the ultralow thermal conductivities in fullerene derivatives is the large reduction in modal diffusivities in the molecular crystals as calculated from the Allen-Feldman model, thus providing an explanation for their largely reduced thermal conductivities as compared to that of C-60 crystals. The low diffusivities result from high degrees of localization of Einstein-like vibrations in fullerene derivatives due to the molecular side chains, providing the ability to dial-in the properties of these low thermal conductivity solids via molecular engineering.

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