MRS Bulletin


Thermal properties of graphene: Fundamentals and applications

Eric Popa1, Vikas Varshneya2 and Ajit K. Roya3

a1 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign;

a2 Air Force Research Laboratory;

a3 Air Force Research Laboratory;


Graphene is a two-dimensional (2D) material with over 100-fold anisotropy of heat flow between the in-plane and out-of-plane directions. High in-plane thermal conductivity is due to covalent sp 2bonding between carbon atoms, whereas out-of-plane heat flow is limited by weak van der Waals coupling. Herein, we review the thermal properties of graphene, including its specific heat and thermal conductivity (from diffusive to ballistic limits) and the influence of substrates, defects, and other atomic modifications. We also highlight practical applications in which the thermal properties of graphene play a role. For instance, graphene transistors and interconnects benefit from the high in-plane thermal conductivity, up to a certain channel length. However, weak thermal coupling with substrates implies that interfaces and contacts remain significant dissipation bottlenecks. Heat flow in graphene or graphene composites could also be tunable through a variety of means, including phonon scattering by substrates, edges, or interfaces. Ultimately, the unusual thermal properties of graphene stem from its 2D nature, forming a rich playground for new discoveries of heat-flow physics and potentially leading to novel thermal management applications.

Key Words:

  • C (27);
  • defects (103);
  • nanostructure (238);
  • specific heat (275);
  • thermal conductivity (276)