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February 28, 2011

Thin Coating of nanowires will boost thermoelectric effect

Significant Reduction of Thermal Conductivity in Si/Ge Core−Shell Nanowires

We report on the effect of germanium (Ge) coatings on the thermal transport properties of silicon (Si) nanowires using nonequilibrium molecular dynamics simulations. Our results show that a simple deposition of a Ge shell of only 1 to 2 unit cells in thickness on a single crystalline Si nanowire can lead to a dramatic 75% decrease in thermal conductivity at room temperature compared to an uncoated Si nanowire. By analyzing the vibrational density states of phonons and the participation ratio of each specific mode, we demonstrate that the reduction in the thermal conductivity of Si/Ge core−shell nanowire stems from the depression and localization of long-wavelength phonon modes at the Si/Ge interface and of high frequency nonpropagating diffusive modes.



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