Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering

Degree Level



Mechanical Engineering


Huitink, David

Committee Member/Reader

Huang, Po-Hao Adam


Thermal management of electronic devices has become an increasingly vital field of study with the rapid miniaturization of many key electrical components. With the significant improvement of semiconductor manufacturing and intensified focus on interconnects, electronic devices have decreased in size at an incredible rate. Decreasing spatial requirements is essential to improving device capabilities as the electronic system is able to incorporate more components. Currently, electronic systems are drastically limited by the capabilities of their cooling mechanisms. Smaller devices lead to large increases in the energy density of the system and require more powerful cooling systems to maintain proper component operating temperatures. The cooling systems, heat pipes, fans or vapor/liquid cooling, capable of high performance requirements are often bulky and rely on large energy inputs to remove extra thermal energy, leading to significant reduction in overall system efficiencies. Phase change materials, PCMs, offer an alternative approach to aid in thermal management. PCMs can absorb large amounts of energy, in the form of latent heat, when undergoing a phase transition. This passive cooling mechanism can be combined with conventional cooling systems to protect the system against temperature spikes, allowing the conventional components to be designed for average thermal load rather than peak load.

This study focuses on the enhancement of Sorbitol, a sugar alcohol with a large latent heat (W/g). Many organic PCMs have poor thermal conductivity, an essential component to optimizing a passive cooling system. Previous research shows thermal conductivity and other thermal properties such as melting temperature and latent heat can be changed by altering the materials’ crystalline structure through nanoparticle inclusion. Sorbitol naturally has a polycrystalline structure, but it can be shown that dispersed nanoparticles can induce crystalline ordering within the host material’s structure. Particle size, type, concentration, and interaction chemistry will be altered in attempt to understand their effect on the thermal properties of Sorbitol. Changes in the composite’s structure will be evaluated using a variety of thermal, crystallographic, and mechanical characterization methods. This work covers the trends observed across the thermal and mechanical properties of significance with respect to the alterations in nanoparticle properties. Understanding the effects of nanoparticle inclusion on Sorbitol could lead to the development of property enhancement trends, crucial to optimizing Sorbitol as a PCM for electronic cooling system integration.


Phase Change Material, Nanoparticle Inclusion, Passive Cooling, Latent Heat, Nanoparticle Network

Available for download on Monday, May 01, 2023