Applied Thermal Measurements at the Nanoscale

Applied Thermal Measurements at the Nanoscale

A Beginner's Guide to Electrothermal Methods

Zhen Chen, Chris Dames


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This book aims to serve as a practical guide for novices to design and conduct measurements of thermal properties at the nanoscale using electrothermal techniques. An outgrowth of the authors’ tutorials for new graduate students in their own labs, it includes practical details on measurement design and selection, sensitivity and uncertainty analysis, and pitfalls and verifications. The information is particularly helpful for someone setting up their own experiment for the first time.

The book emphasizes the integration of thermal analysis with practical experimental considerations, in order to design an experiment for best sensitivity and to configure the laboratory instruments accordingly. The focus is on the measurements of thermal conductivity, though thermal diffusivity and thermal boundary resistance (thermal contact resistance) are also briefly covered, and many of the principles can be generalized to other challenging thermal measurements.

The reader is only expected to have the basic familiarity with electrical instruments typical of a university graduate in science or engineering, and an acquaintance with the elementary laws of heat transfer by conduction, convection, and radiation.

Sample Chapter(s)
Chapter 1: What is in Your Toolbox?

  • What is in Your Toolbox?:
    • Introduction
    • Resistance Thermometry
    • 3ω Method
    • Suspended Microfabricated-Device Method
    • Distributed Self-Heating Method
    • Variations of the Distributed Self-Heating Method, including T-Bridge Method
    • Central-Line Heater Method
    • Heat Spreader Method
    • Closing Remarks
  • Which Tool Should You Choose?:
    • Introduction
    • Bulk Samples
    • Thin Films
    • Suspended 1D structures: Nanotubes and Nanowires
    • Liquids, Biological Tissues, and Other Soft Matter: Supported 3ω Method
  • How to Prepare for a Successful Experiment?:
    • Introduction
    • Thermal Design to Make Parasitics Negligible
    • "Pre-Lab Exercises": Estimating Key Electrical Parameters Prior to the Experiment
    • Control Experiments: Validation Using Samples of Known k
    • Electrical Sanity Checks: Repeatability, Reversibility, and Scaling
  • Uncertainty and Sensitivity Analysis:
    • Introduction
    • Preliminaries
    • Partial Derivative Method
    • Monte Carlo Method
  • Appendices:
    • Lock-In Amplifier
    • Effect of Natural Convection on the 3ω Method
    • Advantages of a 4-Point Probe AC Measurement
    • Voltage to Current Conversion
    • Cryostat and Vacuum Level
    • Radiation Shields
    • Material Properties
    • The Lognormal Distribution

Readership: Graduate students and researchers in nanotechnology; professional.
Thermal Conductivity;Nanoscale;3 Omega Method;Electrothermal Method;Experimental Methods;Introduction;Novice;Beginning0Key Features:
  • A handbook or manual for a novice researcher to get up to speed and effective in performing their own measurements independently
  • Integrated use of thermal design coupled with practical experimental considerations, an approach showing how a microfabricated experimental platform can be optimized to make the measurement results most sensitive to the property of the unknown sample, and highlights the trade-offs between simplicity of microfabrication and simplicity of the heat transfer model
  • Offers some of the most beginner-friendly treatments available for various practical experimental matters, notably including the Monte Carlo approach to uncertainty analysis and detailed advice on configuring a lock-in amplifier for delicate electrothermal measurements