Thermometry and thermal transport in micro/nanoscale solid-state devices and structures

David G. Cahill, Kenneth Goodson, Arunava Majumdar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We review recent advances in experimental methods for high spatial-resolution and high time-resolution thermometry, and the application of these and related methods for measurements of thermal transport in low-dimensional structures. Scanning thermal microscopy (SThM) achieves lateral resolutions of 50 nm and a measurement bandwidth of 100 kHz: SThM has been used to characterize differences in energy dissipation in single-wall and multi-wall carbon nanotubes. Picosecond thermoreflectance enables ultrahigh time-resolution in thermal diffusion experiments and characterization of heat flow across interfaces between materials: the thermal conductance of interfaces between dissimilar materials spans a relatively small range, 20<G<200 MW m-2 K-1 near room temperature. Scanning thermoreflectance microscopy provides nanosecond time resolution and submicron lateral resolution needed for studies of heat transfer in microelectronic, optoelectronic and micromechanical systems. A fully-micromachined solid immersion lens has been demonstrated and achieves thermal-radiation imaging with lateral resolution at far below the diffraction limit, <2 μm. Microfabricated metal bridges using electrical resistance thermometry and joule heating give precise data for thermal conductivity of single crystal films, multilayer thin films, epitaxial superlattices, polycrystalline films, and interlayer dielectrics. The room temperature thermal conductivity of single crystal films of Si is strongly reduced for layer thickness below 100 nm. The through-thickness thermal conductivity of Si-Ge and GaAs-AlAs superlattices has recently been shown to be smaller than the conductivity of the corresponding alloy. The 3ω method has been recently extended to measurements of anisotropic conduction in polyimide and superlattices. Data for carbon nanotubes measured using micromachined and suspended heaters and thermometers indicate a conductivity near room temperature greater than diamond.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-241
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Heat Transfer
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2002


  • Conduction
  • Heat transfer
  • Interface
  • Measurement techniques
  • Microscale
  • Nanoscale
  • Thin films

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Mechanical Engineering


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