The temperature distribution of current-carrying carbon nanotubes (CNs) have been measured by scanning thermal microscopy. The thermal imaging results support that multiwall (MW) CNs and semiconducting single wall (SW) CNs are diffusive and dissipative, while metallic SWCNs change from non dissipative at low electric fields to dissipative at high fields due to optical phonon emission. The temperature rise in a 4.5 μm long MWCN was of order 40 K for a power input of 22 μW and increased linearly with power input. There existed a large temperature drop at the tube-substrate interface due to a weak contact thermal conductance about 0.1 W/m-K. For the MWCN, comparable amount of Joule heat was lost from the tube bulk to the substrate and from the tube to the metal contacts.

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