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ACS Nano. 2011 Dec 27;5(12):10102-7. doi: 10.1021/nn204072n. Epub 2011 Nov 16.

Heat transfer across the interface between nanoscale solids and gas.

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Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720, United States.


When solid materials and devices scale down in size, heat transfer from the active region to the gas environment becomes increasingly significant. We show that the heat transfer coefficient across the solid-gas interface behaves very differently when the size of the solid is reduced to the nanoscale, such as that of a single nanowire. Unlike for macroscopic solids, the coefficient is strongly pressure dependent above ∼10 Torr, and at lower pressures it is much higher than predictions of the kinetic gas theory. The heat transfer coefficient was measured between a single, free-standing VO(2) nanowire and surrounding air using laser thermography, where the temperature distribution along the VO(2) nanowire was determined by imaging its domain structure of metal-insulator phase transition. The one-dimensional domain structure along the nanowire results from the balance between heat generation by the focused laser and heat dissipation to the substrate as well as to the surrounding gas, and thus serves as a nanoscale power-meter and thermometer. We quantified the heat loss rate across the nanowire-air interface, and found that it dominates over all other heat dissipation channels for small-diameter nanowires near ambient pressure. As the heat transfer across the solid-gas interface is nearly independent of the chemical identity of the solid, the results reveal a general scaling relationship for gaseous heat dissipation from nanostructures of all solid materials, which is applicable to nanoscale electronic and thermal devices exposed to gaseous environments.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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