Molecular dynamics study on the effect of long-chain surfactant adsorption on interfacial heat transfer between a polymer liquid and silica surface

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The addition of surfactants to polymer-based thermal interface materials applied to improve the heat dissipation efficiency of chip surfaces in contact has attracted attention for the microelectronic processing technology. In the present study, the mechanism by which a long-chain surfactant affects heat transfer across the interface between solid surface and polymer liquid was investigated by non-equilibrium molecular dynamics simulation. We constructed a system where tetracosane was used as a solvent and contained alcohol molecules as a surfactant, and they were placed between two flat silica surfaces under a thermal gradient. The effect of the hydrophilicity of silica surface, the concentration of the surfactant, and chain length of the surfactant on silica−liquid interfacial thermal resistance R were examined. Alcohol surfactant molecules preferred to adsorb onto the hydrophilic silica (Si−OH) surface due to hydrogen bonding between alcohol and silanol hydroxyl groups. It was found that Rb reduced not only with the adsorption amount of alcohol molecules but also with the chain length of alcohol. The van der Waals interaction contribution was dominant for solid−liquid and liquid−liquid heat conduction near the interface. The hydroxyl terminals of alcohol molecules were vertically adsorbed onto the Si−OH surface due to hydrogen bonds, which produced a heat path from silanols to the hydroxyl groups of alcohol. Furthermore, heat was also exchanged between alcohol hydroxyl and alkyl groups via intramolecular interaction and between the alcohol alkyl groups and nearby solvent molecules via van der Waals (vdW) intermolecular interaction. This resulted in an efficient heat path from solid surface silanols to liquid bulk. As the alcohol chain length increased without changing the number of adsorbed alcohol molecules, the heat transfer through this heat path increased, which led to a decrease in Rb. These results provided insight toward the guiding principle for the molecular design of complex surfactants to enhance the interfacial heat transfer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27558-27570
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry C
Issue number50
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Dec 17

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Energy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


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