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1. (WO1989008837) A DEVICE FOR MEASURING THERMAL PROPERTIES OF A SAMPLE OF A SUBSTANCE
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A DEVICE FOR MEASURING THERMAL PROPERTIES OF A SAMPLE OF A
SUBSTANCE.
The present invention refers to a device for measuring thermal properties of a test substance, which device incorporates a thin strip or layer of an electrically conductive material, e.g. metal, intended to be brought in heat conductive contact with said test substance, means for passing an electric current through said strip or layer for supplying heat to the test substance and causing a temperature increase therein and instrument for recording the voltage variation over the strip or the layer as a function of time and to evaluate therefrom thermal properties, such as thermal conductivity and diffusivity of the test substance.

Background of the invention

The technique known as the THS (Transient Hot Strip)-technique for measuring thermal conductivity and diffusivity of a test substance is described in several publications, see for example articles by Gustavsson et al. in J. Phys.D.12.1411 (1979) and J. Appl.Phys. 52,2596 (1981). According to the THS-technique a thin strip of a metal foil is provided between two identical test substances or alternatively a thin metal film is deposited on the test substance by vapour deposition, which metal foil or alternatively metal film acts as an extended plane heat source and as a temperature sensor. A constant current is passed through the metal strip and voltage variations are recorded as a function of time, in accordance with changes in the resistance of the strip. At a certain constant current the voltage variation is mainly dependent on the strip temperature coefficient for the resistance (TCR) and the mean temperature increase of the strip in turn depends on the thermal properties of the test substance. It thereby is possible with such a measurement to estimate the thermal conductivity and diffusivity of the test substance. In order to simplify the models of calculation it is generally presupposed that the width of the strip is infinitesimal. The time characteristic for the experiments is very short, which calls for sensitive measuring instruments, which may be difficult to handle outside laboratory environment and by untrained personnel.

Purpose and most essentil features of the invention

The purpose of the present invention is to provide a sensor for THS-measurements, which increases the characteristic time for the experiments and which therefore requires less sofisticated measuring instruments, whithout reducing the accuracy of the measurement. This has been achieved according to the invention therein that the active part of said strip or layer has mainly equal length and width, whereby the geometry of the strip or the layer forms part of the calculating model upon which the calculation of the thermal properties of the test substance is based.

Description of the drawings

The invention hereinafter will be further described with reference to some embodiments shown in the accompanying drawings.

Fig. 1 illustrates schematically the square strip upon which the invention is based.
Fig. 2 shows in a view from above an embodiment of the invention. Fig. 3 is a section along line III-III in Fig. 1.
Fig. 4 shows in a view from above a second embodiment of the invention.
Fig. 5 is a section along line V-V in Fig. 4.

Theoretical background

A thin metal layer or a thin metal strip in form of a foil, the width of which is approximately equal to its height, and which is in heat conducting contact with a test substance, is used in a corresponding manner as in the THS-technique. For en endless isotropic medium which surrounds a strip 1 according to Fig. 1 and having the length 2h, the width 2d, a negligible thickness, i.e. negligible heat capacity, and no additional supply from end contacts, the temperature increase T(y,z,t) at each time in dependency of the constantly emitted effect per unit of area Q:



where



A = Thermal Conductivity of the medium

K = Thermal Diffusivity of the medium



and
P = Power released in the strip
The average increase of temperature
in the strip at any time t is



For a square strip d = h so that
becomes


This equation can be solved to give:



The change in resistance of the square strip due to the temperature increase is:




where α = Temperature Coefficient of Resistivity

and if a constant current I0 flows through the strip then the changing voltage due
is


If the strip is not embedded in the sample but makes contact with the sample on one side thereof, e.g. in form of a metal layer deposited on the sample, P0 would go over to 2P0.

Equations (5) and (6) give the thermal properties of the sample substance if the function S(t) could be evaluated. The function S(t) for small values of t e.g by Taylor expansion to:



This approximation is valid t<0,4. For t-values higher than 0,4 function S(t) can be numerically evaluated and then approximated, e.g. by polynominals for different intervals of argument t .

Evaluation of U(t) as a function of time in a certain experiment is done in the same manner as in the THS-technique.

The characteristic time θ was iterated to give a maximum correlation r to the experimental points (U(ti),ti) wherein r is defined by



where U, S are average values of U(ti) and S(ti) resp. From the θ-value giving maximum r the thermal diffusivity is found and using this θ-value the slope of the best fit straight line to equation (6) would give the thermal conductivity, provided the temperature coefficient of resistivity α is known.

The electrical circuits used with the device according to the invention may be the same as those used in conventional THS- technique with an off-set arrangement or an unbalanced bridge, the bridge thereby being preferred.

The characteristic time θ of the experiment is much longer than in a normal THS experiment, because of the greater strip width and hence the demand for time resolution is thus reduced, which facilitates the sampling of measurement datas. However the power released in the strip is much lower per unit of time for a corresponding temperature increase, which means that the noise rejection must be high.

Embodiments in practice

As the square strip according to the invention will give the great advantage of longer measuring times, the fact that the width is large and the length is equal to the width would imply that the initial resistance is low. This would require large currents for typical temperature increases of some degree in the strip. The design of a metal foil sensor with a higher initial resistance therefore is desirable, which could give longer measuring times and lower current.

The most simple design of the invention is in form of a layer deposited by means of evaporation of a metal, e.g. nickel, directly on a sample if the sample is electrically non-conductive or has a thin layer of an electrically insulating material between the metal layer and the sample if this is electrically conductive. The resistance R of a square strip is

"


where
pmetal = electical resistivity of the metal
v = half thickness of the strip
If the strip is constituted by a thin metal layer deposited on a substrate the initial resistance can be controlled rather easily. To reduce the effect of end contacts the embodiment according to Fig. 2 and 3 can be used.

Two probe pads 2a and b, each having the width >4d, the length >4d and the thickness 2v, where 2v is the thickness of the strip are deposited on the sample 3. These dimensions need not be exact, but the distance between the two probe pads should be exactly 2d. A strip 4 having the width 2d, the length >2d and the thickness 2v is deposited transversally across the probe pads 2a and b, whereby the portions of the strip 4 projecting from the probe will overlap each probe pad 2a and b. Additional metal layers 5a and b are deposited on the probe pads 2a and b starting from their outer edges and over a length corresponding to e.g. d/3 for providing attachments for leads. However this length is not essential. It also should be pointed out that the thickness of the layers in Fig. 3 is heavily exaggerated for the sake of clarity.

It also is possible to deposit the metal layer before the probe pads if it is possible to avoid damages on the metal layer during changing of mask..

When using a metal foil, the initial resistance may be increased by etching away narrow strips of the metal foil with continued unbroken current path, such as shown in Fig. 4 and 5. For increasing the mechanical strength of the sensor the top and bottom sides of the strip 6 are glued to a thin supporting material 7, such as kapton, in a manner similar to that used when producing flexible electronic circuits, heaters and strain gauges. The thickness of the layers is strongly exaggerated in Fig. 5 for the sake of clarity.

The etched away, empty spaces 8 are filled up by the supporting material 7. If the width of etched strip is 2δ and the diffusivity of the insulation material, e.g. kapton 7 iski, then the time it would take for the temperature to become the same within the etched strip as in the unetched portion would be about δ2/ki and the sensor should work as a true square strip with the advantage of lower currents required.

The heat capacity of the insulating supporting material 7 has a significant influence when measuring on materials with low thermal conductivity. For materials having thermal conductivity bigger than, e.g. one magnitude higher than that of the insulating supporting material, this problem will be insignificant due to the long times of measurement.

The material in the metal foil 6 may be nickel having a thickness of 10-15μm, whereby the metal foil 6 is applied in a sandwich structure between two electrically insulating layers 7, e.g. of kapton, each having a thickness of about 15-25μm. It also is possible to use thinner foil and insulating layers if it is possible to obtain sufficient mechanical strength. The overall thickness of the sensor would be about 70 - 100 μm, which includes the thickness of the insulating layers 7, the metal foil 6 and the bonding glue. Electric connections to current source and voltmeter (not shown) are joined to the metal foil 6 by soldering.

The etching away of the foil produces, spatially, a number of strips n, each of a width of 2w and a length of 2h within the square 2h=2d. Said strips are parallel to each other, but electrically the strips are connected in series, which means a higher initial resistance. This means that if n is an even number then
n(2w+2δ) = 2d
and which requires an etched away width of about δ on each side of the defined width 2d of the theoretical strip. Ideally δ would be very small and n very large, but from practical reasons the following dimensions are easy to obtain, etched away width 2δ between 0,1 and 0,2 mm,
(2w + 2δ) = 1 mm
and n = I 2d I

The temperature range of the above sensors is essentially dependent on the materials used in the metal foil, insulating material and glue. The metal foil can be copper, nickel, silver, brass and platinium, whereby the choice mainly is based on etching properties, mechanical strength and soldering properties for affixing the sensors. The insulating supporting material may be plastics, kapton, mica or sheets of powdered pressed mica. The choice is mainly based on mechanical strength, intended temperature range and required flexibility. Supporting materials which have high thermal conductivity and diffusivity are to be preferred. An advantage at the sensor according to the invention is that it may also be applied about curved sample surfaces.

The square strip (d=h) according to the invention is applicable for materials having no direction dependency for the thermal properties. With corresponding technique it however is possible to design a sensor for which h>>d, which allows calculation of the direction dependency of the thermal properties.