Just as ember spreads through a piece of coal, heat principally diffuses at a constant rate. The corresponding physical law known as Fourier’s law was already established 200 years ago.
Uniform spreading of heat ceases in low dimensions
Later, scientists came to the conclusion that other rules must apply to the distribution of heat in two- or one-dimensional objects such as films or very fine wires. Respective evidence was provided, for example, by experiments with carbon nanotubes or organic molecular chains, where thermal conductivity was not only dependent on the object’s material but also on its size, or rather its length.
This means that in some materials thermal conductivity increases with the object’s length, while in others it decreases. However, no one has so far been able to derive a physical law similar to Fourier’s law from these observations.
Together with international colleagues, NIM physicist Prof. Peter Hänggi (University of Augsburg) and his team have now gone one step further in the quest for such a law. The scientists have for the first time established a universally valid mathematical connection between object-size-dependent thermal conductivity and the corresponding anomalous rate of heat diffusion.
The insights thus gained allow scientists to devise hybrid materials which display entirely new thermal properties in one- or two-dimensional form. They exploit the fact that in these cases the rate of heat diffusion can be very high in some material compositions and extremely low in others. This is to say that one material allows heat to travel through it very quickly, while another functions as thermal insulator. The theoretical calculations are of particular interest for objects at nanoscale, whose thermal behavior is hard to measure in experiments. Currently, nanostructures composed of carbon materials which are to serve as phononic diodes or heat storage systems (memory) are simulated by computer models. Analogous to electronic components, these elements can then be used to conduct information processing.
“The exploration of heat diffusion in low-scale dimensions is only just beginning and certainly holds many surprises – as well as a huge potential”, explains Peter Hänggi. “The ubiquitous detrimental thermal losses, for example, can be used to beneficial effect for functional materials or phononic information processing. Maybe, in the distant future, the dream of a computer functioning with waste heat will come true.”
Publication:Anomalous Heat Diffusion by Sha Liu, Peter Hänggi, Nianbei Li, Jie Ren, and Baowen Li. Phys. Rev. Lett. 112: 040601 (2014)
Contact person:Prof. Peter Hänggi
UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion
16.11.2018 | University of New Hampshire
NASA keeps watch over space explosions
16.11.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure
Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
23.10.2018 | Event News
16.11.2018 | Health and Medicine
16.11.2018 | Life Sciences
16.11.2018 | Life Sciences