K. Sasihithlu, J.B. Pendry, R.V. Craster
January 11, 2017
Phonons (collective atomic vibrations in solids) are more effective in transporting heat than photons. This is the reason why the conduction mode of heat transport in nonmetals (mediated by phonons) is dominant compared to the radiation mode of heat transport (mediated by photons). However, since phonons are unable to traverse a vacuum gap (unlike photons), it is commonly believed that two bodies separated by a gap cannot exchange heat via phonons. Recently, a mechanism was proposed [J. B. Pendry, K. Sasihithlu, and R. V. Craster, Phys. Rev. B 94 , 075414 (2016)] by which phonons can transport heat across a vacuum gap – through the Van der Waals interaction between two bodies with gap less than the wavelength of light. Such heat transfer mechanisms are highly relevant for heating (and cooling) of nanostructures; the heating of the flying heads in magnetic storage disks is a case in point. Here, the theoretical derivation for modelling phonon transmission is revisited and extended to the case of two bodies made of different materials separated by a vacuum gap. Magnitudes of phonon transmission, and hence the heat transfer, for commonly used materials in the micro- and nano-electromechanical industry are calculated and compared with the calculation of conduction heat transfer through air for small gaps as well as the heat transfer calculation due to photon exchange.