Ball-milled recycled lead-graphite pencils as highly stretchable and low-cost thermal-interface materials

Chun An Liao, Yee Kwan Kwan, Tien Chan Chang, Yiin Kuen Fuh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


A simple and sustainable production of nanoplatelet graphite at low cost is presented using carbon-based materials, including the recycled lead-graphite pencils. In this work, exfoliated graphite nanoplatelets (EGNs), ball-milled exfoliated graphite nanoplatelets (BMEGNs) and recycled lead-graphite pencils (recycled 2B), as well as thermally cured polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), are used to fabricate highly stretchable thermal-interface materials (TIMs) with good thermally conductive and mechanically robust properties. Several characterization techniques including scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) showed that recycled nanoplatelet graphite with lateral size of tens of micrometers can be reliably produced. Experimentally, the thermal conductivity was measured for EGNs, BMEGNs and recycled 2B fillers with/without the effect of ball milling. The in-plane thermal conductivities of 12.97 W/mK (EGN), 13.53 W/mK (recycled 2B) and 14.56 W/mK (BMEGN) and through-plane thermal conductivities of 0.76 W/mK (EGN), 0.84 W/mK (recycled 2B) and 0.95 W/mK (BMEGN) were experimentally measured. Anisotropies were calculated as 15.31, 15.98 and 16.95 for EGN, recycled 2B and BMEGN, respectively. In addition, the mechanical robustness of the developed TIMs is such that they are capable of repeatedly bending at 180 degrees with outstanding flexibility, including the low-cost renewable material of recycled lead-graphite pencils. For heat dissipating application in high-power electronics, the TIMs of recycled 2B are capable of effectively reducing temperatures to approximately 6.2 °C as favorably compared with thermal grease alone.

Original languageEnglish
Article number799
Issue number7
StatePublished - 20 Jul 2018


  • Ball milling
  • Recycled lead-graphite pencils
  • Thermal conductivity
  • Thermal-interface materials (TIMs)


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