A Low-Frequency Wave Motion Mechanism Enables Efficient Energy Transport in Carbon Nanotubes at High Heat Fluxes

XL Zhang and M Hu and D Poulikakos, NANO LETTERS, 12, 3410-3416 (2012).

DOI: 10.1021/nl300261r

The great majority of investigations of thermal transport in carbon nanotubes (CNTs) in the open literature focus on low heat fluxes, that is, in the regime of validity of the Fourier heat conduction law. In this paper, by performing nonequilibrium molecular dynamics simulations we investigated thermal transport in a single-walled CNT bridging two Si slabs under constant high heat flux. An anomalous wave-like kinetic energy profile was observed, and a previously unexplored, wave-dominated energy transport mechanism is identified for high heat fluxes in CNTs, originated from excited low frequency transverse acoustic waves. The transported energy, in terms of a one-dimensional low frequency mechanical wave, is quantified as a function of the total heat flux applied and is compared to the energy transported by traditional Fourier heat conduction. The results show that the low frequency wave actually overtakes traditional Fourier heat conduction and efficiently transports the energy at high heat flux. Our findings reveal an important new mechanism for high heat flux energy transport in low-dimensional nanostructures, such as one-dimensional (1-D) nanotubes and nanowires, which could be very relevant to high heat flux dissipation such as in micro/nanoelectronics applications.

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