Atomistic simulation of the thermal conductivity in amorphous SiO2 matrix/Ge nanocrystal composites

VV Kuryliuk and OA Korotchenkov, PHYSICA E-LOW-DIMENSIONAL SYSTEMS & NANOSTRUCTURES, 88, 228-236 (2017).

DOI: 10.1016/j.physe.2017.01.021

We use nonequilibrium molecular dynamics computer simulations with the Tersoff potential aiming to provide a comprehensive picture of the thermal conductivity of amorphous SiO2 (a-SiO2) matrix with embedded Ge nanocrystals (nc-Ge). The modelling predicts the a-SiO2 matrix thermal'conductivity in a temperature range of 50 < T < 500 K yielding a fair agreement with experiment at around room temperature. It is worth noticing that the predicted room-temperature thermal conductivity in a-SiO2 is in very good agreement with the experimental result, which is in marked contrast with the thermal conductivity calculated employing the widely used van Beest-Kramer-van Santen (BKS) potential. We show that the thermal conductivity of composite nc Ge/a-SiO2 systems decreases steadily with increasing the volume fraction of Ge inclusions, indicative of enhanced interface scattering of phonons imposed by embedded Ge nanocrystals. We also observe that increasing the volume fractions above a certain threshold value results in a progressively increased thermal conductivity of the nanocomposite, which can be explained by increasing volume fraction of a better thermally conducting Ge. Finally, non-equilibrium molecular dynamics simulations with the Tersoff potential are promising for computing the thermal conductivity of nanocomposites based on amorphous SiO2 and can be readily scaled to more complex composite structures with embedded nanoparticles, which thus help design nanocomposites with desired thermal properties.

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