Fresnel transmission coefficients for thermal phonons at solid interfaces

25 Sep 2015  ·  Hua Chengyun, Chen Xiangwen, Ravichandran Navaneetha K., Minnich Austin J. ·

Interfaces play an essential role in phonon-mediated heat conduction in solids, impacting applications ranging from thermoelectric waste heat recovery to heat dissipation in electronics. From a microscopic perspective, interfacial phonon transport is described by transmission and reflection coefficients, analogous to the well-known Fresnel coefficients for light... However, these coefficients have never been directly measured, and thermal transport processes at interfaces remain poorly understood despite considerable effort. Here, we report the first measurements of the Fresnel transmission coefficients for thermal phonons at a metal-semiconductor interface using ab-initio phonon transport modeling and a thermal characterization technique, time-domain thermoreflectance. Our measurements show that interfaces act as thermal phonon filters that transmit primarily low frequency phonons, leading to these phonons being the dominant energy carriers across the interface despite the larger density of states of high frequency phonons. Our work realizes the long-standing goal of directly measuring thermal phonon transmission coefficients and demonstrates a general route to study microscopic processes governing interfacial heat conduction. read more

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Mesoscale and Nanoscale Physics