Over the life of nuclear fuel, inhomogeneous structures develop, negatively impacting thermal properties. New fuels are under development, but require more accurate knowledge of how the properties change to model performance and determine safe operational conditions. Measurement systems capable of small–scale, pointwise thermal property measurements and low cost are necessary to measure these properties and integrate into hot cells where electronics are likely to fail during fuel investigation. This project develops a cheaper, smaller, and easily replaceable Fluorescent Scanning Thermal Microscope (FSTM) using the blue laser and focusing circuitry from an Xbox HD-DVD player. The FSTM also incorporates novel fluorescent thermometry methods to determine thermal diffusivity. The FSTM requires minimal sample preparation, does not require access to both sides of the sample, and components can be easily swapped out if damaged, as is likely in irradiated hot cells. Using the optical head from the Xbox for sensing temperature changes, an infrared laser diode provides periodic heating to the sample, and the blue laser induces fluorescence in Rhodamine B deposited on the sample's surface. Thermal properties are fit to modulated temperature models from the literature based on the phase delay response at different modulated heating frequencies. With the FSTM method, the thermal diffusivity of a 10 cent euro coin was found to be 21±5 mm2/s. This value is compared to Laser Flash Analysis and a Thermal Conductivity Microscope (which used thermoreflectance a method), which found the thermal diffusivity to be 30.4±0.1 mm2/s and 19±3 mm2/s, respectively. The hardware and instrumentation performed as expected, but the property measurements show that the device is not yet optimized to provide accurate measurements with current heat transfer models. Future work is discussed to investigate the accuracy and necessary modeling adjustments, as well as refinements to the instrumentation.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Mechanical Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





thermal diffusivity, fluorescent thermometry, photothermal, instrumentation