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By Mark D. Losego and David G. Cahill


news & views Collective excitations such as phonons, the atomic or molecular vibrations that transport heat in a material, have always lagged behind electrons and photons, both in terms of their velocity and our scientific understanding of them. The relative difficulties of measuring heat and temperature has hindered thermal science from achieving the same level of sophistication as electronics and photonics. Whereas electronic and optical transport have long been studied with high levels of precision (for example, reaching the manipulation of single electrons and photons), experiments on thermal energy transport have typically lacked the control and sensitivity needed to explore behaviour at the nano- and atomic scales. Writing in Nature Materials, Ong et al. have significantly advanced this topic by examining in detail the flow of heat at organic/inorganic interfaces1. To illustrate the significance of this work, it is useful to contrast our understandings of electronic and thermal transport at an interface. For electronic interfacial transport, a simple model based on the aligning of work THERMAL TRANSPORT Breaking through barriers Understanding heat flow across interfaces remains an open question for thermal science. Nanocrystal arrays may play a key role in unlocking this mystery

Year: 2013
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