Advancing work continues to push the limits of material science, requiring more cutting-edge sensor measuring techniques to better characterize emerging materials. Meanwhile, improvements in microelectrical/mechanical systems (MEMS) and sensors have opened new avenues to acquire data. Traditional work on heat flow characterization requires large-scale and expensive testing, which is not ideal for most sample sizes. Preliminary work has shown that integrating MEMS heat flow meters with commercial bulk measurement systems has allowed for the testing of small bulk samples. This method has provided an accurate and reliable way to acquire thermophysical properties of small samples that could not be sampled utilizing traditional systems.

This work reports a system for analyzing small bulk-scale samples (25.4 mm × 25.4 mm area) to determine the effective thermal conductivity of a material. The apparatus implements ISO 8301:1991 and ASTM C518-21 and utilizes low-cost components to achieve a compact measurement system, fitting into a 200 mm × 300 mm footprint and using a MEMS heat flow meter. Additionally, the system had an average error across insulators and conductors of 4.15% from the commonly accepted values. The device provides rapid thermal characterization measurements of material samples, with potential applications in coatings for packaging and integrating with new materials in multiscale designs.

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