Thermal dissipation and variability in electrical breakdown of carbon nanotube devices

Albert Liao, Rouholla Alizadegan, Zhun Yong Ong, Sumit Dutta, Feng Xiong, K. Jimmy Hsia, Eric Pop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We study high-field electrical breakdown and heat dissipation from carbon nanotube (CNT) devices on SiO2 substrates. The thermal "footprint" of a CNT caused by van der Waals interactions with the substrate is revealed through molecular dynamics simulations. Experiments and modeling find the CNT-substrate thermal coupling scales proportionally with CNT diameter and inversely with SiO2 surface roughness (∼d/Δ). Comparison of diffuse mismatch modeling and data reveals the upper limit of thermal coupling ∼0.4 W K-1 m-1 per unit CNT length at room temperature, (130 MW K-1 m-2 per unit area), and ∼0.7 W K-1 m-1 at 600°C for the largest diameter (∼ 3.2 nm) CNTs. We also find semiconducting CNTs can break down prematurely and display more variability due to dynamic shifts in threshold voltage, which metallic CNTs are immune to; this poses a fundamental challenge for selective electrical breakdowns in CNT electronics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number205406
JournalPhysical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics
Issue number20
StatePublished - Nov 5 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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