Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Monte Carlo based statistical approach to solve Boltzmann Transport Equation (BTE) has become a norm to investigate heat transport in semiconductors at sub-micron regime, owing mainly to its ability to characterize realistically sized device geometries qualitatively. One of the primary issues with this technique is that the approach predominantly uses empirically fitted phonon dispersion relations as input to determine the properties of phonons so as to predict the thermal conductivity of specified material geometry. The empirically fitted dispersion relations assume harmonic approximation thereby failing to account for thermal expansion, interaction of lattice waves, effect of strain on spring stiffness, and accurate phonon-phonon interaction. To circumvent this problem, in this work, a coupled molecular mechanics-Monte Carlo (MM-MC) platform has been developed and used to solve the phonon Boltzmann Transport Equation (BTE) for the calculation of thermal conductivity of several novel and emerging nanostructures. The use of the quasi-anharmonic MM approach (as implemented in the open source NEMO 3-D software toolkit) not only allows one to capture the true atomicity of the underlying lattice but also enables the simulation of realistically-sized structures containing millions of atoms. As compared to the approach using an empirically fitted phonon dispersion relation, here, a 17% increase in the thermal conductivity for a silicon nanowire due to the incorporation of atomistic corrections in the LA (longitudinal acoustic) branch alone has been reported. The atomistically derived thermal conductivity as calculated from the MM-MC framework is then used in the modular design and analysis of (i) a silicon nanowire based thermoelectric cooler (TEC) unit, and (ii) a GaN/InN based nanostructured light emitting device (LED). It is demonstrated that the use of empirically fitted phonon bandstructure parameters overestimates the temperature difference between the hot and the cold sides and the overall cooling efficiency of the system, thereby, demanding the use of the BTE derived thermal conductivity in the calculation of thermal conductivity. In case of the light-emitting device, the microscopically derived material parameters, as compared to their bulk and fitted counterparts, yielded ~3% correction (increase) in optical efficiency. A non-deterministic approach adopted in this work, therefore, provides satisfactory results in what concerns phonons transport in both ballistic and diffusive regimes to understand and/predict the heat transport phenomena in nanostructures.
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