Prediction of reduced thermal conductivity in nano-engineered rough semiconductor nanowires

Pierre N. Martin, Zlatan Aksamija, Eric Pop, Umberto Ravaioli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We explore phonon decay processes necessary to the design of efficient rough semiconductor nanowire (NW) thermoelectric devices. A novel approach to surface roughness-limited thermal conductivity of Si, Ge, and GaAs NW with diameter D < 500 nm is presented. In particular, a frequency-dependent phonon scattering rate is computed from perturbation theory and related to a description of the surface through the root-mean-square roughness height Δ and autocovariance length L. Using a full phonon dispersion relation, the thermal conductivity varies quadratically with diameter and roughness as (D/Δ)2. Computed results are in agreement with experimental data, and predict remarkably low thermal conductivity below 1 W/m/K in rough-etched 56 nm Ge and GaAs NW at room temperature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number012010
JournalJournal of Physics: Conference Series
StatePublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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