Reduced thermal conductivity in nanoengineered rough Ge and GaAs nanowires

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We model and compare the thermal conductivity of rough semiconductor nanowires (NWs) of Si, Ge, and GaAs for thermoelectric devices. On the basis of full phonon dispersion relations, the effect of NW surface roughness on thermal conductivity is derived from perturbation theory and appears as an efficient way to scatter phonons in Si, Ge, and GaAs NWs with diameter D < 200 nm. For small diameters and large root-mean-square roughness Δ, thermal conductivity is limited by surface asperities and varies quadratically as (D/Δ)2. At room temperature, our model previously agreed with experimental observations of thermal conductivity down to 2 W m?1 K?1 in rough 56 nm Si NWs with Δ = 3 nm. In comparison to Si, we predict here remarkably low thermal conductivity in Ge and GaAs NWs of 0.1 and 0.4 W m?1 K?1, respectively, at similar roughness and diameter.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1120-1124
Number of pages5
JournalNano letters
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 14 2010


  • Nanowire
  • Roughness
  • Semiconductor
  • Thermal
  • Thermoelectricity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering


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