Origins of thermal conductivity changes in strained crystals

KD Parrish and A Jain and JM Larkin and WA Saidi and AJH McGaughey, PHYSICAL REVIEW B, 90, 235201 (2014).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevB.90.235201

The strain-dependent phonon properties and thermal conductivities of a soft system Lennard-Jones (LJ) argon and a stiff system (silicon modeled using first-principles calculations) are predicted using lattice dynamics calculations and the Boltzmann transport equation. As is commonly assumed for materials under isotropic strain, the thermal conductivity of LJ argon decreases monotonically as the system moves from compression into tension. The reduction in thermal conductivity is attributed to decreases in both the phonon lifetimes and group velocities. The thermal conductivity of silicon, however, is constant in compression and only begins to decrease once the system is put in tension. The silicon lifetimes show an anomalous behavior, whereby they increase as the system moves from compression into tension, which is explained by examining the potential energy surface felt by an atom. The results emphasize the need to separately consider the harmonic and anharmonic effects of strain on material stiffness, phonon properties, and thermal conductivity.

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