Fiber thermal characterization is often accomplished by indirect means, such as embedding the fiber in a matrix, measuring the thermal response of the composite, and relating for the contributions of the fiber and matrix to the overall behavior or measuring bundles of fibers. To improve the accuracy of the composite-based or bundle-based techniques, several different contact (hot wire and dc thermal bridge) and non-contact (Raman shift and IR thermography) methods have been developed to directly measure the thermal properties of individual fibers. To improve on the shortcomings of these methods, this paper presents the experimental results of an improved transient electrothermal (TET) method, as well as a 3ω-based method that better accounts for all sources of heat transfer, particularly heat loss by radiation. The incorporation of radial radiation heat loss becomes a significant factor as the size of the fibers decrease. This work describes practical applications of the methods to measure the properties of the fibers, including sample preparation for electrically conductive and non-conductive samples, data acquisition and calibration, data analysis, and sample property determination.

Results include validation of the methods with electrically conductive (platinum) and non-conductive (glass) fibers to improve upon the initial validation of the generalized electrothermal method which focused only on short, conductive fibers. The axial thermal conductivity and diffusivity of several high performance fibers are presented. The novelty of this paper is that it serves as both a compilation of previous research on the transient electrothermal and 3ω methods [1–6], measurements of new silk fibers, and practical information associated with the methods that improve the accuracy of the measured thermal property, as well as presenting thermal properties of additional fibers (carbon fiber and natural and synthetic spider silks).

To improve upon the long sample preparation time required for the TET and 3ω methods, future work focused on the development of a quantum dot-based photothermal fluorescence method is presented.

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