Molecular dynamics study of the thermal conductivity of amorphous nanoporous silica

T Coquil and J Fang and L Pilon, INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF HEAT AND MASS TRANSFER, 54, 4540-4548 (2011).

DOI: 10.1016/j.ijheatmasstransfer.2011.06.024

This study reports, for the first time, non-equilibrium molecular dynamics (MD) simulations predicting the thermal conductivity of amorphous nanoporous silica. The heat flux was imposed using the Muller- Plathe method and interatomic interactions were modeled using the widely used van Beest, Kramer and van Santen potential. Monodisperse spherical pores organized in a simple cubic lattice were introduced in an amorphous silica matrix by removing atoms within selected regions. The simulation cell length ranged from 17 to 189 A, the pore diameter from 12 to 25 A, and the porosity varied between 10% and 35%. Results establish that the thermal conductivity of nanoporous silica at room temperature was independent of pore size and depended only on porosity. This qualitatively confirms recent experimental measurements for cubic and hexagonal mesoporous silica films with pore diameter and porosity ranging from 3 to 18 nm and 20% to 48%, respectively. Moreover, predictions of MD simulations agreed well with predictions from the coherent potential model. By contrast, finite element analysis simulating the same nanoporous structures, but based on continuum theory of heat conduction, agreed with the well-known Maxwell Garnett model. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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