A Reexamination of Phonon Transport through a Nanoscale Point Contact in Vacuum


M. T. Pettes and Shi, L., “A Reexamination of Phonon Transport through a Nanoscale Point Contact in Vacuum,” Journal of Heat Transfer, vol. 136, no. 3, pp. 032401, 2014.


Using a silicon nitride cantilever with an integral silicon tip and a microfabricated platinum–carbon resistance thermometer located close to the tip, a method is developed to concurrently measure both the heat transfer through and adhesion energy of a nanoscale point contact formed between the sharp silicon tip and a silicon substrate in an ultrahigh vacuum atomic force microscope at near room temperature. Several models are used to evaluate the contact area critical for interpreting the interfacial resistance. Near field-thermal radiation conductance was found to be negligible compared to the measured interface thermal conductance determined based on the possible contact area range. If the largest possible contact area is assumed, the obtained thermal interface contact resistance can be explained by a nanoconstriction model that allows the transmission of phonons from the whole Brillouin zone of bulk Si with an average finite transmissivity larger than 0.125. In addition, an examination of the quantum thermal conductance expression suggests the inaccuracy of such a model for explaining measurement results obtained at above room temperature.