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Rectification of electronic heat current by a hybrid thermal diode


Thermal diodes1,2—devices that allow heat to flow preferentially in one direction—are one of the key tools for the implementation of solid-state thermal circuits. These would find application in many fields of nanoscience, including cooling, energy harvesting, thermal isolation, radiation detection3 and quantum information4, or in emerging fields such as phononics5,6,7 and coherent caloritronics8,9,10. However, both in terms of phononic11,12,13 and electronic heat conduction14 (the latter being the focus of this work), their experimental realization remains very challenging15. A highly efficient thermal diode should provide a difference of at least one order of magnitude between the heat current transmitted in the forward temperature (T) bias configuration (Jfw) and that generated with T-bias reversal (Jrev), leading to  = Jfw/Jrev  1 or  1. So far,  ≈ 1.07–1.4 has been reported in phononic devices16,17,18, and  ≈ 1.1 has been obtained with a quantum-dot electronic thermal rectifier at cryogenic temperatures19. Here, we show that unprecedentedly high ratios of  ≈ 140 can be achieved in a hybrid device combining normal metals tunnel-coupled to superconductors20,21,22. Our approach provides a high-performance realization of a thermal diode for electronic heat current that could be successfully implemented in true low-temperature solid-state thermal circuits.

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Figure 1: Thermal diode implementation.
Figure 2: Thermal diode response and modelling.
Figure 3: Thermal diode performance.
Figure 4: Heat rectification mechanisms.


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The authors thank C. Altimiras for useful comments. The Marie Curie Initial Training Action (ITN) Q-NET 264034, the Italian Ministry of Defense through PNRM project TERASUPER, and the European Research Council under the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013)/ERC grant agreement no. 615187-COMANCHE are acknowledged for partial financial support.

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M.J.M-P. fabricated the samples. M.J.M-P. and A.F. performed the measurements, analysed the data and carried out simulations. F.G. conceived the experiment. M.J.M-P., A.F. and F.G. discussed the results and implications equally at all stages, and wrote the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Francesco Giazotto.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Martínez-Pérez, M., Fornieri, A. & Giazotto, F. Rectification of electronic heat current by a hybrid thermal diode. Nature Nanotech 10, 303–307 (2015).

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