Anomalous thermal response of silicene to uniaxial stretching

M Hu and XL Zhang and D Poulikakos, PHYSICAL REVIEW B, 87, 195417 (2013).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevB.87.195417

Silicene-the silicon counterpart of graphene-has a two-dimensional structure that leads to a host of interesting physical and chemical properties of significant utility. We report here an investigation with nonequilibrium molecular dynamics simulations of thermal transport in a single-layer silicene sheet under uniaxial stretching. We discovered that, contrary to its counterpart of graphene and despite the similarity of their honeycomb lattice structure, silicene exhibits an anomalous thermal response to tensile strain: The thermal conductivity of silicene and silicene nanoribbons first increases significantly with applied tensile strain rather than decreasing and then fluctuates at an elevated plateau. By quantifying the relative contribution from different phonon polarizations, we show first that the phonon transport in silicene is dominated by the out-of-plane flexural modes, similar to graphene. We attribute subsequently the unexpected and markedly different behavior of silicene to the interplay between two competing mechanisms governing heat conduction in a stretched silicene sheet, namely, (1) uniaxial stretching modulation in the longitudinal direction significantly depressing the phonon group velocities of longitudinal and transverse modes (phonon softening) and hindering heat conduction, and (2) phonon stiffening in the flexural modes counteracting the phonon softening effect and facilitating thermal transport. The abnormal behavior of the silicene sheet is further correlated to the unique deformation characteristics of its hexagonal lattice. Our study offers perspectives of modulating the thermal properties of low-dimensional structures for applications such as thermoelectric, photovoltaic, and optoelectronic devices.

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