Nanostructured Interfaces for Fusion Energy Systems

Period of Performance: 01/01/2008 - 12/31/2008


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Technova Corporation
Okemos, MI 48864
Principal Investigator
Firm POC


Fusion energy systems impose tremendous surface heat fluxes that must be transferred to and dissipated by heat sinks. Heat transfer from source to sink encounters particularly high thermal resistance and severe thermo-mechanical challenges at the interfaces between different materials along the thermal path. For example, thermal fatigue and fracture are commonly encountered at such thermal interfaces as the hot isostatic pressing (HIP) joints between plasma facing materials and heat sinks. The exceptional thermal conductivity, strength, ductility, and thermal stability of a variety of nanomaterials (e.g., carbon nanotubes, tungsten nanowires, and boron nitride nanotubes) have prompted interest in the development of nanostructured thermal interfaces. This project will develop a versatile class of nanostructured interfaces that can meet the thermo¬mechanical demands on joints between plasma facing materials and heat sinks in fusion energy systems. Phase I will assess the theoretical potential of nanostructured interfaces, develop production methodologies, and determine the key performance attributes of nanostructured interfaces in simulations and in the laboratory. Commercial Applications and other Benefits as described by the awardee: The new coating technology would complement the worldwide efforts toward realizing the unique advantages of fusion as an alternative energy source. Escalating thermal management problems in electronics also could be addressed by the proposed technology. The estimated market size for nanostructured thermal interfaces in semiconductor packaging is close to $50 million per year.