Nanostructured semiconducting materials are promising candidates for thermoelectrics (TEs) due to their potential to suppress phonon transport while preserving electrical properties. Modeling phonon-boundary scattering in complex geometries is crucial for predicting materials with high conversion efficiency. However, the simultaneous presence of ballistic and diffusive phonons challenges the development of models that are both accurate and computationally tractable. Using the recently developed first-principles Boltzmann transport equation (BTE) approach, we investigate diffusive phonons in nanomaterials with wide mean-free-path (MFP) distributions. First, we derive the short MFP limit of the suppression function, showing that it does not necessarily recover the value predicted by standard diffusive transport, challenging previous assumptions. Second, we identify a Robin type boundary condition describing diffuse surfaces within Fourier's law, extending the validity of diffusive heat transport in terms of Knudsen numbers. Finally, we use this result to develop a hybrid Fourier/BTE approach to model realistic materials, obtaining good agreement with experiments. These results provide insight on thermal transport in materials that are within experimental reach and open opportunities for large-scale screening of nanostructured TE materials.
Diffusive Phonons in Nongray Nanostructures
Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
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Contributed by the Heat Transfer Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF HEAT TRANSFER. Manuscript received October 16, 2017; final manuscript received June 12, 2018; published online October 8, 2018. Assoc. Editor: Alan McGaughey.
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Romano, G., and Kolpak, A. M. (October 8, 2018). "Diffusive Phonons in Nongray Nanostructures." ASME. J. Heat Transfer. January 2019; 141(1): 012401. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.4040611
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