Thermal conductivity of amorphous polymers and its dependence on molecular weight

Andy Kiessling, David Nieto Simavilla, Georgios G. Vogiatzis, David C. Venerus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Thermal conductivity is an important transport property governing the performance of polymers in non-isothermal conditions. Nevertheless, its dependence on molecular weight M has not been the subject of as much attention as other properties of polymeric materials. We determine the thermal conductivity of polystyrene and polyisobutylene for a wide range of molecular weight by measuring the density, heat capacity and thermal diffusivity. Using coarse-graining and reverse mapping methods, we were able to produce molecular melts to study the thermal conductivity of polystyrene using molecular dynamics simulations over a similar range of molecular weight. We find satisfactory agreement between the experimental and simulation results. However, all of our results show that thermal conductivity depends only slightly on molecular weight up the entanglement limit and it is independent thereafter. Our results put into question the few previous experimental studies on this topic by showing that the previously accepted proportionality to M does not hold. Our findings could have significant implications for the understanding of complex phenomena such as anisotropic thermal conductivity in polymers subjected to flow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number123881
StatePublished - Jul 16 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


  • 99-00
  • Forced Rayleigh scattering
  • MD simulation 2010 MSC: 00–01
  • Molecular weight
  • Polyisobutylene
  • Polystyrene
  • thermal Conductivity


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