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Thermal phonon transport in silicon nanostructures

Jérémie Maire 1
1 INL - Photonique - INL - Nanophotonique
INL - Institut des Nanotechnologies de Lyon
Abstract : In the last two decades, nano-structuration has allowed thermoelectric efficiency to rise dramatically. Silicon (Si), originally a poor thermoelectric material, when scaled down, to form nanowires for example, has seen its efficiency improve enough to be accompanied by a renewed interest towards thermal transport in Si nanostructures. Although it is already possible to reduce thermal conductivity in Si nanostructures by nearly two orders of magnitude, thermal transport mechanisms remain unclear. A better understanding of these mechanisms could not only help to improve thermoelectric efficiency but also open up the path towards high-frequency thermal phonon control in similar ways that have been achieved with photons. The objective of this work was thus to develop a characterization platform, study thermal transport in various Si nanostructures, and ultimately highlight the contribution of the coherent phonon transport to thermal conductivity. First, we developed an optical characterization system alongside the fabrication process. Fabrication of the structures is realized on-site in clean rooms, using a combination of wet processes, electron-beam lithography, plasma etching and metal deposition. The characterization system is based on the thermoreflectance principle: the change in reflectivity of a metal at a certain wavelength is linked to its change in temperature. Based on this, we built a system specifically designed to measure suspended nanostructures. Then we studied the thermal properties of various kinds of nanostructures. Suspended unpatterned thin films served as a reference and were shown to be in good agreement with the literature as well as Si nanowires, in which thermal transport has been confirmed to be diffusive. Only at very low temperature and for short nanowires does a partially ballistic transport regime appear. While studying 1D periodic fishbone nanostructures, it was found that thermal conductivity could be adjusted by varying the shape which in turn impacts surface scattering. Furthermore, low temperature measurements confirmed once more the specularity of phonon scattering at the surfaces. Shifting the study towards 2D phononic crystals (PnCs), it was found that although thermal conductivity is mostly dominated by the surface-to-volume (S/V) ratio for most structures, when the limiting dimension, i.e. the inter-hole spacing, becomes small enough, thermal conductivity depends solely on this parameter, being independent of the S/V ratio. Lastly, we were able to observe, at low temperature in 2D PnCs, i.e. arrays of holes, thermal conduction tuning based on the wave nature of phonons, thus achieving the objective of this work.
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Jérémie Maire. Thermal phonon transport in silicon nanostructures. Other. Ecole Centrale de Lyon, 2015. English. ⟨NNT : 2015ECDL0044⟩. ⟨tel-01374868⟩

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