Conduction in jammed systems of tetrahedra

Kyle C. Smith, Timothy S. Fisher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Control of transport processes in composite microstructures is critical to the development of high-performance functional materials for a variety of energy storage applications. The fundamental process of conduction and its control through the manipulation of granular composite attributes (e.g., grain shape) are the subject of this work. We show that athermally jammed packings of tetrahedra with ultrashort range order exhibit fundamentally different pathways for conduction than those in dense sphere packings. Highly resistive granular constrictions and few face-face contacts between grains result in short-range distortions from the mean temperature field. As a consequence, 'granular' or differential effective medium theory predicts the conductivity of this media within 10% at the jamming point; in contrast, strong enhancement of transport near interparticle contacts in packed-sphere composites results in conductivity divergence at the jamming onset. The results are expected to be particularly relevant to the development of nanomaterials, where nanoparticle building blocks can exhibit a variety of faceted shapes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number081301
JournalJournal of Heat Transfer
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Conduction
  • Energy
  • Jamming
  • Microstructure
  • Platonic solids
  • Tetrahedra

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • General Materials Science


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