Minimum thermal conductivity in the context of: Diffuson -mediated thermal transport

Matthias T. Agne*, Riley Hanus, G. Jeffrey Snyder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


A model for the thermal conductivity of bulk solids is proposed in the limit of diffusive transport mediated by diffusons as opposed to phonons. This diffusive thermal conductivity, κdiff, is determined by the average energy of the vibrational density of states, ωavg, and the number density of atoms, n. Furthermore, κdiff is suggested as an appropriate estimate of the minimum thermal conductivity for complex materials, such that (at high temperatures):. A heuristic finding of this study is that the experimental ωavg is highly correlated with the Debye temperature, allowing κdiff to be estimated from the longitudinal and transverse speeds of sound: . Using this equation to estimate κmin gives values 37% lower than the widely-used Cahill result and 18% lower than the Clarke model for κmin, on average. This model of diffuson-mediated thermal conductivity may thus help explain experimental results of ultralow thermal conductivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)609-616
Number of pages8
JournalEnergy and Environmental Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Pollution

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