Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Electrical Engineering


Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

LaVern A. Starman, PhD


Thermal metamaterials are materials composed of engineered, microscopic structures that exhibit unique thermal performance characteristics based primarily on their physical structures and patterning, rather than just their chemical composition or bulk material properties. The heat transfer performance attributes of a thermal metamaterial are such that similar performance cannot be obtained using conventional materials or compounds. Thermal metamaterials are an emerging technology, and are just now beginning to be acknowledged and developed by the microelectronics and material sciences community. This thesis effort analyzed the current state of thermal metamaterial research, examined the physics and theory of heat transfer and electrical conductivity in thin film microelectronic designs, and then developed, modeled, fabricated, and characterized a series of ten proof-of-concept thermal metamaterial devices. Modeling and testing of these microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) based thermal metamaterial prototypes showed that the electrical and thermal conductivity of the material can be switched or tuned within a certain operational range, and that this switching is a function of actuation of the metamaterial’s structural elements, not just its chemical composition. In addition, this thesis presented the physics and fundamental principles of carbon nanotubes (CNTs). This background work supported later detailed description of a series of prototype CNT braided ropes. The diameter, electrical resistivity and conductivity, and heat transfer characteristics of these CNT braided rope prototypes was determined. These unique prototypes exhibited performance attributes that should prove useful to future thermal metamaterial designs.

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