SPECIAL TOPIC — Phononics and phonon engineering
Sulfide nanocrystals and their composites have shown great potential in the thermoelectric (TE) field due to their extremely low thermal conductivity. Recently a solid and hollow metastable Au2S nanocrystalline has been successfully synthesized. Herein, we study the TE properties of this bulk Au2S by first-principles calculations and semiclassical Boltzmann transport theory, which provides the basis for its further experimental studies. Our results indicate that the highly twofold degeneracy of the bands appears at the Γ point in the Brillouin zone, resulting in a high Seebeck coefficient. Besides, Au2S exhibits an ultra-low lattice thermal conductivity ( ~0.88 W·m-1·K-1 at 700 K). At 700 K, the thermoelectric figure of merit of the optimal p-type doping is close to 1.76, which is higher than 0.8 of ZrSb at 700 K and 1.4 of PtTe at 750 K. Our work clearly demonstrates the advantages of Au2S as a TE material and would greatly inspire further experimental studies and verifications.
We investigate the quantum thermal transistor effect in nonequilibrium three-level systems by applying the polaron-transformed Redfield equation combined with full counting statistics. The steady state heat currents are obtained via this unified approach over a wide region of system-bath coupling, and can be analytically reduced to the Redfield and nonequilibrium noninteracting blip approximation results in the weak and strong coupling limits, respectively. A giant heat amplification phenomenon emerges in the strong system-bath coupling limit, where transitions mediated by the middle thermal bath are found to be crucial to unravel the underlying mechanism. Moreover, the heat amplification is also exhibited with moderate coupling strength, which can be properly explained within the polaron framework.
The ultra-low thermal conductivity of roughened silicon nanowires (SiNWs) can not be explained by the classical phonon-surface scattering mechanism. Although there have been several efforts at developing theories of phonon-surface scattering to interpret it, but the underlying reason is still debatable. We consider that the bond order loss and correlative bond hardening on the surface of roughened SiNWs will deeply influence the thermal transport because of their ultra-high surface-to-volume ratio. By combining this mechanism with the phonon Boltzmann transport equation, we explicate that the suppression of high-frequency phonons results in the obvious reduction of thermal conductivity of roughened SiNWs. Moreover, we verify that the roughness amplitude has more remarkable influence on thermal conductivity of SiNWs than the roughness correlation length, and the surface-to-volume ratio is a nearly universal gauge for thermal conductivity of roughened SiNWs.