Communication: Thermal Rectification in Liquids by Manipulating the Solid-Liquid Interface

2013-12-12T00:00:00Z (GMT) by Sohail Murad Ishwar K. Puri
Thermal rectification, the origin of which lies in modifying the thermal resistance in a nonlinear manner, could significantly improve the thermal management of a wide range of nano-devices (both electronic and thermoelectric), thereby improving their efficiencies. Since rectification requires a material to be inhomogeneous, it has been typically associated with solids. However, the structure of solids is relatively difficult to manipulate, which makes the tuning of thermal rectification devices challenging. Since liquids are more amenable to tuning, this could open up new applications for thermal rectification. We use molecular dynamics simulations to demonstrate thermal rectification using liquid water. This is accomplished by creating an inhomogeneous water phase, either by changing the morphology of the surface in contact with the liquid or by imposing an arbitrary external force, which in practice could be through an electric or magnetic field. Our system consists of a bulk fluid that is confined in a reservoir that is bounded by two walls, one hot and the other cold. The interfacial (Kapitza) thermal resistance at the solid-fluid interface and the density gradient of the bulk fluid both influence the magnitude of the thermal rectification. However, we find that the role of the interfacial resistance is more prominent than the application of an external force on the bulk fluid. This observation presents opportunities to develop different types of switches for changing the direction of thermal rectification by manipulating surface morphology or externally driven molecular forces.

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