Thermal transport in dimerized harmonic lattices: Exact solution, crossover behavior, and extended reservoirs

Chih Chun Chien, Said Kouachi, Kirill A. Velizhanin, Yonatan Dubi, Michael Zwolak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


We present a method for calculating analytically the thermal conductance of a classical harmonic lattice with both alternating masses and nearest-neighbor couplings when placed between individual Langevin reservoirs at different temperatures. The method utilizes recent advances in analytic diagonalization techniques for certain classes of tridiagonal matrices. It recovers the results from a previous method that was applicable for alternating on-site parameters only, and extends the applicability to realistic systems in which masses and couplings alternate simultaneously. With this analytic result in hand, we show that the thermal conductance is highly sensitive to the modulation of the couplings. This is due to the existence of topologically induced edge modes at the lattice-reservoir interface and is also a reflection of the symmetries of the lattice. We make a connection to a recent work that demonstrates thermal transport is analogous to chemical reaction rates in solution given by Kramers' theory [Velizhanin, Sci. Rep. 5, 17506 (2015)]2045-232210.1038/srep17506. In particular, we show that the turnover behavior in the presence of edge modes prevents calculations based on single-site reservoirs from coming close to the natural - or intrinsic - conductance of the lattice. Obtaining the correct value of the intrinsic conductance through simulation of even a small lattice where ballistic effects are important requires quite large extended reservoir regions. Our results thus offer a route for both the design and proper simulation of thermal conductance of nanoscale devices.

Original languageEnglish
Article number012137
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number1
StatePublished - 23 Jan 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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