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Nanomaterial thermal transport properties and nanothermodynamics

This symposium is focused on the impact of nanoscale on thermal transport properties and their consequences on thermodynamic quantities, in particular temperature, maximum output power and conversion efficiency. It is now understood that the dynamics of energy carriers is governed by distributions of mean free paths in the nano to microscale and mean free times on the order of the picosecond timescale, while acoustic THz and infrared wavelengths are especially contributing to thermal transport. As a consequence, material shaping at nanoscale or ultrafast pump-probe investigations allow for tuning thermal transport in nanomaterials. The consequences can be observed on the thermal conductivity levels or at the spectral levels. In addition, local nonequilibrium, ballistic transport, near-field and nonlinear effects such as rectification are expected to play significantly on the nanoscale engines/thermodynamic cycles involving nanomaterials. Applications for thermoelectric, thermophotovoltaic and other types of heat-to- electricity conversion devices are expected to be especially affected.

As a result, the goal of this symposium is therefore to present recent results and novel concepts. Particular attentions will be paid to bridge gaps between experiments and modeling, for fundamental issues and applications, in order to move towards a deeper understanding of the physics and the related devices.


Thermal and radiative properties of materials at the micro/nanoscale are not well described by the usual laws governing their properties at the macroscopic scale, derived from Fourier and Planck blackbody frameworks. The length scale and the shape of the systems affect the dynamics of the heat carriers, electrons, phonons and photons. Ballistic transport, scattering at boundaries and interfaces, interplay between energy carriers and sub-wavelength effects are key phenomena that lead to deviations from the macroscopic theories.

Many applications of these effects have already been identified, ranging from energy conversion devices to thermal management in nanodevices, phase change materials, magnetic memory and coherent transport. Nanostructuring allows the coupling of surface waves and pave the way to the design of new monochromatic and/or directional energy transport.

Although considerable progress has been made, the fundamental understanding of heat transport at short time and length scales and the impact on the heat-to-electricity conversion devices remain incomplete. Despite the tremendous recent advancement in heat-conduction based and radiative experimentation at the nanoscale in terms of sensitivity and accuracy, measurements with high resolution in time and space remain very challenging. Measurements on both “academic” or “real” structures are currently investigated, involving deposition of heaters and sensors on given samples, noninvasive sensing by means of contact scanning-probe or non-contact optical techniques. Energy carrier mean-free paths may cover several length scales, from the nanometer to very-long distances, thereby making the computational modeling less straightforward and calling for breatkthroughs in atomistic simulations and their coupling to tools at larger scales, for instance involving the Boltzmann transport equations for the different energy carriers. Nanostructuring is used for its benefits on thermal conductivity decrease for thermoelectricity but its effect on electronic transport is still under study. The understanding and use of coherent effects in thermal radiation and heat conduction has been previously limited to low temperatures and is progressing towards room temperature. The consequences on bio-molecules are also of great interest though their study is still a challenge. Understanding the coupling between plasmons and phonons remains an important and rarely addressed issue. A lot of effort has been devoted to the thermal management of nanodevices, from the source due to electron-phonon scattering to the dissipation, thermal interface materials, for both cooling and thermal insulation of nanodevices.

Given the above context and open issues, this symposium will provide a forum to show and discuss latest advances on these topics. Our aim is to gather experimentalists and theoreticians from the fields of heat conduction, near-field or sub-wavelength thermal radiation and photonic/phononic/electronic devices. One aim is to expand to concepts of nanothermodynamics and local nonequilibrium thermodynamics.

Hot topics to be covered by the symposium

  • Nanoscale heat transport phenomena (e.g. quasi  - ballistic transport, localization)
  • Thermal transport at interfaces
  • Thermal transport in disordered and amorphous materials
  • Thermal transport in liquids and soft and biological matter
  • Near-field thermal radiation, phononics and metamaterials
  • Non-equilibrium and picosecond thermal transient behaviors
  • Thermal transport characterization techniques (e.g. mean- free path spectroscopies)
  • New formalisms or simulation techniques of thermal transport
  • Interactions among different types of energy carriers (e.g. phonons, electrons, magnons,photons)         
  • Thermal energy harvesting and storage materials
  • Thermoelectric and thermophotovoltaic energy conversion
  • Thermal transport in 2D, 1D and 0D materials, and extreme conditions
  • Radiative cooling and thermal radiation and in the near-field or involving sub  - wavelength objects such as metamaterials
  • Aplications to thermodynamic cycles, engines and heat to - electricity conversion devices
  • Fundamentals and statistical physics grounds of thermal transport  

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Symposium organizers
F-Xavier ALVAREZAutonomous University of Barcelona (UAB)

Physics Department, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Edifici C, Campus Bellaterra. 08193 Barcelona, Spain

INSA Lyon, Campus La Doua, 9, rue de la Physique – Bâtiment Sadi-Carnot, 69621 Villeurbanne cedex, France

INSA Lyon, Campus La Doua, 9, rue de la Physique – Bâtiment Sadi-Carnot, 69621 Villeurbanne cedex, France
Xanthippi ZIANNITechnological Educational Institution of Sterea Ellada

Dept. of Aircraft Technology, Technological Educational Institution of Sterea Ellada, 34400 Psachna, Greece