Examining the Effects of Stiffness and Mass Difference on the Thermal Interface Conductance Between Lennard-Jones Solids

K Gordiz and A Henry, SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 5, 18361 (2015).

DOI: 10.1038/srep18361

To date, the established methods that describe thermal interface conductance (TIC) and include mode-level dependence have not included anharmonicity. The current intuition is therefore based on the behavior in the harmonic limit, whereby the extent of overlap in the bulk phonon density of states (DoS) (e.g., frequency overlap) dictates the TIC and more frequency overlap leads to higher TIC. Here, we study over 2,000 interfaces described by the Lennard-Jones potential using equilibrium molecular dynamics simulations, whereby we systematically change the mass and stiffness of each side. We show that the trends in TIC do not generally follow that of the bulk phonon DoS overlap, but instead more closely follow the vibrational power spectrum overlap for the interfacial atoms. We then identify the frequency overlap in the interfacial power spectra as an improved descriptor for understanding the qualitative trends in TIC. Although improved, the results show that the basic intuition of frequency overlap is still insufficient to explain all of the features, as the remaining variations are shown to arise from anharmonicity, which is a critical effect to include in interface calculations above cryogenic temperatures.

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