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Remote Joule heating by a carbon nanotube

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Abstract

Minimizing Joule heating remains an important goal in the design of electronic devices1,2. The prevailing model of Joule heating relies on a simple semiclassical picture in which electrons collide with the atoms of a conductor, generating heat locally and only in regions of non-zero current density, and this model has been supported by most experiments. Recently, however, it has been predicted that electric currents in graphene and carbon nanotubes can couple to the vibrational modes of a neighbouring material3,4, heating it remotely5. Here, we use in situ electron thermal microscopy to detect the remote Joule heating of a silicon nitride substrate by a single multiwalled carbon nanotube. At least 84% of the electrical power supplied to the nanotube is dissipated directly into the substrate, rather than in the nanotube itself. Although it has different physical origins, this phenomenon is reminiscent of induction heating or microwave dielectric heating. Such an ability to dissipate waste energy remotely could lead to improved thermal management in electronic devices6.

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Figure 1: Thermal imaging of a multiwalled carbon nanotube under bias.
Figure 2: Remote Joule heating by a multiwalled carbon nanotube.
Figure 3: Quantitative comparison of experiment and simulations.

Change history

  • 17 April 2012

    In the version of this Letter originally published online, in the caption of Fig. 3a, the value of β should have been 0.84. This error has been corrected in all versions of the Letter.

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Acknowledgements

This research was supported by the US Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Division of Materials Sciences and Engineering (award no. DE-FG02-10ER46742). N.V. is supported by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission under a Faculty Development Grant (NRC3809950).

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Contributions

K.H.B. and J.C. conceived the experiments. K.H.B. fabricated the devices, performed measurements and carried out the simulations. N.V. assisted K.H.B. in lithography and data acquisition. All authors discussed the results. K.H.B and M.B. developed finite-element models. M.B. and N.V. helped point out and address any alternative explanations. K.H.B. and J.C. co-wrote the paper.

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Correspondence to John Cumings.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Baloch, K., Voskanian, N., Bronsgeest, M. et al. Remote Joule heating by a carbon nanotube. Nature Nanotech 7, 316–319 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1038/nnano.2012.39

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