Nanoscale investigations show how roughness affects thermal transport across interfaces.
THE REMOVAL OF HEAT from a sliding interface is an important issue in tribology. Asperity-asperity contact can lead to locally high temperatures that influence additive reactions with surfaces and wear behavior. Surprisingly, though, the way in which heat moves across rough surfaces is remarkably poorly understood. Given that tribological contact occurs between micrometeror nanometer-scale asperities, these are actually the relevant scales on which to scrutinize heat transfer across an interface.
Contact depends crucially on the applied pressure, but experimentally, theoretically and philosophically, the issue of contact on a very small scale can become problematic, as we have previously discussed in this column [see "Contact Conundrum Conquered?"
Bernd Gotsmann and
During most AFM tip-surface experiments, a pressure dependence of the Hertzian tip-surface nominal contact area is observed since the tip end can be thought of as being spherical. This makes it difficult to assess the behavior of the contacts on an atomic level since both pressure and contact area change as load increases. Gotsmann and Lantz used a cunning experimental trick to avoid pressuredependent, nominal-contact-area variation. By wearing down the probe tip by sliding it for hundreds of meters over the surface, they could form a conformal, flat-punch arrangement. Thus, pressure-dependent experiments could be relied upon to show the actual effect on thermal conductivity of the number of atoms in contact increasing as a function of load.
The experiment involved increasing the load applied to the surface by the cantilever through the surfaceconformal, flattened tip, while simultaneously monitoring the temperature of the integrated heater. Since the only dissipation channel that changed with load was the heat transfer across the tip-surface interface, this measurement could yield the interfacial thermal conductance as a function of applied load (see Figure /).
When contacts are on the nanoscale, the thermal conductivity is quantized since the diameter of a transport channel is less than the transversal thermal coherence length. Using atomistic simulations, the authors could derive the number of nanocontacts between the flattened tip and the surface as a function of load. Assigning a quantum of thermal conductance to each nanocontact, they could then calculate the thermal conductance and its pressure dependence.
Comparing this and alternative conduction and contact theories with the experimental results, they could show that only by taking atomic roughness and quantized transport into account could the data be accurately predicted. No fitting parameters were used, and physical properties were obtained from the literature. The study thus not only provides insights into the mechanisms of conduction between surfaces with nanoscale roughness but also provides support for atomistic contact models.
FOR FURTHER READING:
Gotsmann, B. and Lantz, MA. (2013), "Quantized thermal transport across contacts of rough surfaces," Nature Materials. 12, pp. 59-65.
Most Popular Stories
- Businesses, Investors Pressing for Green Policy
- 'The Voice' Sounds Different This Season
- NSHMBA to Rebrand With New Name, Logo
- Lower Used-Car Prices Roil the Auto Industry
- Chrysler and Google Launch Virtual Plant Tour
- Investors Fret Yahoo's Future, Stock Dips
- Perry Wants to Skip Court for Foreign Trip
- Liberty Power Helps USHCC Go Green
- Hispanic Designer Honored As Rising Star
- Porn Lovers Get a New Search Engine