Frequency-domain probe beam deflection method for measurement of thermal conductivity of materials on micron length scale

Jinchi Sun, Guangxin Lv, David G. Cahill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Time-domain thermoreflectance and frequency-domain thermoreflectance (FDTR) have been widely used for non-contact measurement of anisotropic thermal conductivity of materials with high spatial resolution. However, the requirement of a high thermoreflectance coefficient restricts the choice of metal coating and laser wavelength. The accuracy of the measurement is often limited by the high sensitivity to the radii of the laser beams. We describe an alternative frequency-domain pump-probe technique based on probe beam deflection. The beam deflection is primarily caused by thermoelastic deformation of the sample surface, with a magnitude determined by the thermal expansion coefficient of the bulk material to measure. We derive an analytical solution to the coupled elasticity and heat diffusion equations for periodic heating of a multilayer sample with anisotropic elastic constants, thermal conductivity, and thermal expansion coefficients. In most cases, a simplified model can reliably describe the frequency dependence of the beam deflection signal without knowledge of the elastic constants and thermal expansion coefficients of the material. The magnitude of the probe beam deflection signal is larger than the maximum magnitude achievable by thermoreflectance detection of surface temperatures if the thermal expansion coefficient is greater than 5 × 10-6 K-1. The uncertainty propagated from laser beam radii is smaller than that in FDTR when using a large beam offset. We find a nearly perfect matching of the measured signal and model prediction, and measure thermal conductivities within 6% of accepted values for materials spanning the range of polymers to gold, 0.1-300 W/(m K).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number014903
JournalReview of Scientific Instruments
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Instrumentation


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