Exploiting hydrogenation for thermal rectification in graphene nanoribbons

C Melis and G Barbarino and L Colombo, PHYSICAL REVIEW B, 92, 245408 (2015).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevB.92.245408

We present a molecular dynamics study providing evidence that it is possible to conceive efficient thermal diodes by a suitable hydrogen decoration of graphene nanoribbons. We estimate thermal rectifications at graphane/graphene interfaces with vertical, triangular, and T-shaped morphologies, and we report a significant thermal rectification up to similar to 54% for the triangular one. The dependence of the thermal rectification on the nanoribbon dimensions, vertex angle, and temperature gradient is also explored. The physical origin of the observed rectification is analyzed in terms of the different temperature dependence of the thermal conductivity in the pristine materials and the overlap of phonon densities in the different morphologies. Finally, we propose an effective continuum model to describe thermal rectification, which is only based on the steady state temperature profile rather than the actual heat flux. The model quantitatively predicts thermal rectification in very good agreement with the standard analysis based on the heat flux estimate.

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