Temperature-responsive thermal metamaterials enabled by modular design of thermally tunable unit cells

Sunggu Kang, Jonghwan Cha, Kyeongbeom Seo, Sejun Kim, Youngsun Cha, Howon Lee, Jinsung Park, Wonjoon Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Integrated circuits or miniaturized portable electronics require adaptive thermal control under certain temperatures. Thermal metamaterials (TMs), which artificially manipulate the heat passing through mediums have shown innovative thermal functions at a continuum scale. However, they cannot implement tunable thermal functions at local spots depending on the operating temperatures. Herein, we introduce temperature-responsive TMs enabled by modular design of thermally tunable unit cells. As ambient temperature changes, tunable thermal shifters can dynamically turn on/off their intrinsic functions to guide anisotropic heat transfer through the transition of thermal conductivities from the inner phase change nanocomposites (PCNCs), and their modular design realizes temperature-responsive thermal shields having switchable functions. The layered structures of stainless steel and the PCNC of n-octadecane embedding carbon nanotubes and copper powder are fabricated as tunable thermal shifters. Their 4 × 4 modular structure confirms the feasibility of temperature-responsive TMs, verified by the disappearance and appearance of thermally shielded regimes at low- and high-temperature ranges. The potential use of the developed concept was demonstrated as tunable interfaces between thermal dissipation and insulation for protecting temperature-sensitive components. This work can offer new capabilities for conventional passive TMs, such as local thermal adaptation, active thermal control interface, and thermal disturbance mitigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)469-482
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Mar

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd


  • Heat conduction
  • Phase change nanocomposite
  • Responsive material
  • Thermal metamaterial
  • Thermal shield

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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