Impedance Matching of Atomic Thermal Interfaces Using Primitive Block Decomposition

Carlos A. Polanco, Christopher B. Saltonstall, Pamela M. Norris, Patrick E. Hopkins, and Avik W. Ghosh, Nanoscale and Microscale Thermophysical Engineering , 17 (3) :263-279 (2013).


We explore the physics of thermal impedance matching at the interface between two dissimilar materials by controlling the properties of a single atomic mass or bond. The maximum thermal current is transmitted between the materials when we are able to decompose the entire heterostructure solely in terms of primitive building blocks of the individual materials. Using this approach, we show that the minimum interfacial thermal resistance arises when the interfacial atomic mass is the arithmetic mean, whereas the interfacial spring constant is the harmonic mean of its neighbors. The contact-induced broadening matrix for the local vibronic spectrum, obtained from the self-energy matrices, generalizes the concept of acoustic impedance to the nonlinear phonon dispersion or the short-wavelength (atomic) limit.