Thermal rectification in thin films driven by gradient grain microstructure

Zhe Cheng, Brian M. Foley, Thomas Bougher, Luke Yates, Baratunde A. Cola, Samuel Graham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


As one of the basic components of phononics, thermal rectifiers transmit heat current asymmetrically similar to electronic rectifiers in microelectronics. Heat can be conducted through them easily in one direction while being blocked in the other direction. In this work, we report a thermal rectifier that is driven by the gradient grain structure and the inherent gradient in thermal properties as found in these materials. To demonstrate their thermal rectification properties, we build a spectral thermal conductivity model with complete phonon dispersion relationships using the thermophysical properties of chemical vapor deposited (CVD) diamond films which possess gradient grain microstructures. To explain the observed significant thermal rectification, the temperature and thermal conductivity distribution are studied. Additionally, the effects of temperature bias and film thickness are discussed, which shed light on tuning the thermal rectification based on the gradient microstructures. Our results show that the columnar grain microstructure makes CVD materials unique candidates for mesoscale thermal rectifiers without a sharp temperature change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number095114
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Mar 7 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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