Thermal rectification in a polymer-functionalized single-wall carbon nanotube

S Pal and IK Puri, NANOTECHNOLOGY, 25, 345401 (2014).

DOI: 10.1088/0957-4484/25/34/345401

Thermal rectification occurs when heat current through a material is favored in one direction but not in the opposite direction. These materials, often called thermal diodes, have the potential to perform logic calculations with phonons. Rectification obtained with existing material systems is either too minor or too difficult to implement practically. Hence, we present a scheme to enable higher rectification using a single-wall carbon nanotube (SWCNT) that is covalently functionalized near one end with polyacetylene (PA) chains. This composite structure allows rectification R up to 204%, which is higher than the values reported for SWCNTs. Here, R=((J(+)-J(-))/J(-)) 100%, where J(+) and J(-) are the heat currents for forward and reverse bias, respectively. The interatomic interactions in the SWCNT-PA nanocomposite are nonlinear, i.e., they are anharmonic, which is a requirement for thermal rectification. Through atomistic simulations, we identify two additional conditions to accomplish thermal rectification at the nanoscale, namely, (1) structural asymmetry, and (2) that the influence of this asymmetry on thermal transport is temperature dependent. The optimum temperature difference to achieve the highest thermal rectification with the structure is 40-80 K.

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