Interface thermal conductance and the thermal conductivity of multilayer thin films

David G Cahill, Andrew Bullen, Seung Min Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Accurate and simple measurements of the thermal conductivity of thin films deposited on high thermal conductivity substrates have been recently enabled by the development of an AC hot-wire method, the 3ω method. Recent progress in the measurement and understanding of heat transport in ultra-thin films (≪ 1 μm thick) and multilayers is reviewed, and the possibility of using solid-solid interfaces on nanometer length scales to control heat transport in thin film materials is explored. The finite thermal conductance of solid-solid interfaces becomes important when considering heat transport in single layer films < 100 nm thick. Through the use of multilayer films - for example, epitaxial superlattices of crystalline semiconductors or nanometer-thick layers of amorphous and microcrystalline oxides - we can study materials with an extremely high and controllable density of internal interfaces, and evaluate the effect of these interfaces on heat transport. For the case of Si-Ge superlattices, the relatively large mismatch of the vibrational properties of silicon and germanium creates a larger reduction in thermal conductivity than for GaAs-AlAs superlattices. Surprisingly, heat conduction in multilayers of disordered oxides is essentially unchanged by a high interface density.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-142
Number of pages8
JournalHigh Temperatures - High Pressures
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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