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Tuesday, 13 October 2020

A novel thermal diode operating at high temperatures based on nanostructured silicon membranes

Researchers from the ICN2 Phononic and Photonic Nanostructures Group and the Adam Mickiewicz University (Poland) have designed, fabricated and characterized an all-silicon device working as a thermal diode at high temperatures and in moderate vacuum. The results of this research, recently published in Nano Energy, can open the way to new strategies of thermal energy management and harvesting.

Heat dissipation is crucial to the correct functioning of electronic devices and the progressive miniaturization of systems has made it even more challenging. Thermal rectifiers, which enable preferential transport of heat in one direction, can prove very useful for temperature management. Several solid-state thermal rectifiers, or thermal diodes, using phonon heat conduction have been proposed to this purpose. Most of them, though, operate only below room temperature or require advanced multi-component fabrication.

A close collaboration between researchers from the ICN2 Phononic and Photonic Nanostructures Group (P2N) — in particular, Dr Marianna Sledzinska, Dr Francesc Alzina and group leader ICREA Prof. Dr Clivia M. Sotomayor Torres — and from the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan (Poland) — led by former P2N’s member Dr Bartlomiej Graczykowski — has resulted in the design, fabrication and testing of a thermal diode made of a single material (silicon) operating at high temperature and in moderate vacuum conditions. The device is based on nanostructured silicon membranes, which exhibit space- and temperature-dependent thermal conductivity. The authors of this work have also demonstrated that this thermal diode can operate as an air-triggered thermal switch and a passive cooler.

These results, which have been recently published in Nano Energy, are relevant to a variety of applications, from thermal energy management and harvesting to thermal logic and more, all merged into a single CMOS-compatible platform. They can also trigger the development of new strategies of heat dissipation and passive cooling for electronics and MEMS.


Reference article:

Maciej Kasprzak, Marianna Sledzinska, Karol Zaleski, Igor Iatsunskyi, Francesc Alzina, Sebastian Volz, Clivia M. Sotomayor Torres, Bartlomiej Graczykowski, High-temperature silicon thermal diode and switch, Nano Energy 78, 105261 (2020).

DOI: 10.1016/j.nanoen.2020.105261