Tutorial 2: A Bottom-Up View of Heat Transfer in Nanomaterials

By Timothy S Fisher

Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

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This lecture provides a theoretical development of the transport of thermal energy by conduction in nanomaterials. The physical nature of energy transport by two carriers—electrons and phonons--will be explored from basic principles using a common Landauer framework. Issues including the quantum of thermal conductance, ballistic interface resistance, and carrier scattering will be developed. Bulk material properties, such as thermal conductivity, will be derived from particle transport theories, and the effects of spatial confinement and material interfaces on these properties will be established.


  • Introduction
  • Lattice vibrations and phonons
  • The vibrating string
  • Interfaces between dissimilar strings:
    acoustic mismatch
  • Discrete masses and the vibrational eigenspectrum
  • Thermal properties and larger scales


Tim Fisher Tim Fisher joined Purdue's School of Mechanical Engineering in 2002 after serving as a faculty member at Vanderbilt University beginning in 1998. He received the BS and PhD degrees from Cornell University and spent two years as a full-time engineer at Motorola. His work has been recognized through a number of awards, including the NSF CAREER award, the 3M Untenured Faculty Award, the Best Student Poster Award from the Semiconductor Research Corporation, and the Best Paper Award at the Fifth Intersociety Conference on Thermal Phenomena in Electronic Systems. His current research efforts include theoretical, computational and experimental studies focused toward integration of nanoscale materials with bulk materials for enhancement of electrical, thermal, and mass transport characteristics. Applications of his work cover a broad range of areas, including nanoelectronics, thermal and electrical interface materials, electronics cooling, direct energy conversion, biosensors, and hydrogen storage. This work has also produced related studies of controlled synthesis of nanomaterials, particularly carbon nanotubes.

Sponsored by

"Electronics from the Bottom Up" is an educational initiative designed to bring a new perspective to the field of nano device engineering. It is co-sponsored by the Intel Foundation and the Network for Computational Nanotechnology.

Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Timothy S Fisher (2011), "Tutorial 2: A Bottom-Up View of Heat Transfer in Nanomaterials," https://nanohub.org/resources/11029.

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MSEE B012, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN