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Nanostructures for phononic applications

Heat and vibrations have traditionally been regarded as sources of loss. Today, however, phonons can be controlled and manipulated, particularly in nanoscale materials. This symposium aims at addressing fundamental issues related to phonon transport and the design of nanostructures for phonon manipulation.


Recent years have witnessed an enormous progress in the growth and design of nanostructures and now materials with unprecedented level of purity and structural quality are available. Present experimental capabilities are such that nanostructured features of the same characteristic length of phonons, the quantized vibrations of the crystal lattice, can be obtained. This enhanced degree of control in material design opens the way to a wealth of new strategies to control and manipulate phonon transport. The thermal conductivity of a material can be purposely suppressed, to engineer an efficient thermoelectric; thermal budget, which otherwise can be the bottleneck of the performance of many nanoelectronic devices, can be lowered; phonons can be used to encode logic function in devices analogous to their electronic counterparts, such as diodes and transistors; mechanical waves with frequencies within a specific range are not allowed to propagate within the periodic structure in phononic crystals. On the other hand, nano-mechanical vibrations can also be thought of as standing acoustic waves and hence as discretized, low frequency acoustic phonon modes. Additionally, cavity optomechanics explores the parametric coupling of a mechanical resonator to an optical cavity mode.

The progress in nanoscale thermal transport strongly depends on the development of reliable methods to precisely determine all the relevant parameters, ideally at the level of the individual nanostructure. The most pressing issues involve the precise measurement of the thermal conductivity and the determination of contact thermal resistances. Within this scenario, the predictive power of the state-of-the-art theoretical methods is becoming increasingly important, both to asses and help interpreting the results of the measurements and possibly providing guidelines for the design of new experiments. These include solution from first-principles of the Boltzmann Transport equation, for a quantitative prediction of the phononic properties of bulk materials and molecular dynamics calculations, which, despite capturing often only qualitative trends, allow addressing distinctive features of the nanostructuring, such as complex interfaces, or surface roughness.

Hot topics to be covered by the symposium:

  • Theoretical methods for phonon dispersion and phonon transport
  • Experimental methods for probing phonons and phonon transport
  • Coherent phonons and coherent phonon transport
  • Thermal circuit elements and computation with phonons
  • Thermoelectrics
  • Phononic and phoXonic crystals

Tentative list of invited speakers:

  • Baowen Li, University of Colorado, Boulder (USA) and National University of Singapore
  • Gang Chen, MIT (USA)
  • Georg K. H. Madsen, TU Wien (Austria)
  • Tobias Kippenberg, EPFL (Switzerland)
  • Pierre-Olivier Chapuis, INSA Lyon (France) 
  • Eva Weig, Universität Konstanz (Germany) 
  • Daniel Lanzillotti-Kimura, CNRS and Université Paris-Sud (France)


Proceedings will be published by Semiconductor Science and Technology (IOP)

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Symposium organizers
Ilaria ZARDOUniversity of Basel

Department of Physics, Klingelbergstrasse 82, 4056 Basel, Switzerland

Ivana SAVICTyndall National Institute

Lee Maltings Complex, Dyke Parade, T12R5CP Cork, Ireland

+353 21 234 6280
Martino POGGIOUniversity of Basel

Department of Physics, Klingelbergstrasse 82, 4056 Basel, Switzerland

+416120 73761
Riccardo RURALIInstitut de Ciència de Materials de Barcelona (ICMAB-CSIC)

Campus de Bellaterra, 08193 Bellaterra (Cerdanyola del Vallès), Spain

+34 935801853