Effective thermal conductivity of polycrystalline materials with randomly oriented superlattice grains

Fan Yang*, Teruyuki Ikeda, G. Jeffrey Snyder, Chris Dames

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


A model has been established for the effective thermal conductivity of a bulk polycrystal made of randomly oriented superlattice grains with anisotropic thermal conductivity. The in-plane and cross-plane thermal conductivities of each superlattice grain are combined using an analytical averaging rule that is verified using finite element methods. The superlattice conductivities are calculated using frequency dependent solutions of the Boltzmann transport equation, which capture greater thermal conductivity reductions as compared to the simpler gray medium approximation. The model is applied to a PbTe/Sb 2Te3 nanobulk material to investigate the effects of period, specularity, and temperature. The calculations show that the effective thermal conductivity of the polycrystal is most sensitive to the in-plane conductivity of each superlattice grain, which is generally four to five times larger than the cross-plane conductivity of a grain. The model is compared to experimental measurements of the same system for periods ranging from 287 to 1590 nm and temperatures from 300 to 500 K. The comparison suggests that the effective specularity increases with increasing annealing temperature and shows that these samples are in a mixed regime where both Umklapp and boundary scattering are important.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number034310
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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