Effects of chemical bonding on heat transport across interfaces

Mark D. Losego, Martha E. Grady, Nancy R. Sottos, David G. Cahill, Paul V. Braun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

579 Scopus citations


Interfaces often dictate heat flow in micro-and nanostructured systems. However, despite the growing importance of thermal management in micro-and nanoscale devices, a unified understanding of the atomic-scale structural features contributing to interfacial heat transport does not exist. Herein, we experimentally demonstrate a link between interfacial bonding character and thermal conductance at the atomic level. Our experimental system consists of a gold film transfer-printed to a self-assembled monolayer (SAM) with systematically varied termination chemistries. Using a combination of ultrafast pump-probe techniques (time-domain thermoreflectance, TDTR, and picosecond acoustics) and laser spallation experiments, we independently measure and correlate changes in bonding strength and heat flow at the gold-SAM interface. For example, we experimentally demonstrate that varying the density of covalent bonds within this single bonding layer modulates both interfacial stiffness and interfacial thermal conductance. We believe that this experimental system will enable future quantification of other interfacial phenomena and will be a critical tool to stimulate and validate new theories describing the mechanisms of interfacial heat transport. Ultimately, these findings will impact applications, including thermoelectric energy harvesting, microelectronics cooling, and spatial targeting for hyperthermal therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)502-506
Number of pages5
JournalNature Materials
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank S. Dunham for helping to develop our transfer-printing process. This work is supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) MURI FA9550-08-1-0407. N.R.S. acknowledges support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) CMMI 07-26742 and M.E.G. is supported by a Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) graduate fellowship. Fabrication and characterization were carried out in part in the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which is partially supported by the US Department of Energy under grants DE-FG02-07ER46453 and DE-FG02-07ER46471.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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