Heat transport and phonon localization in mass-disordered harmonic crystals

Abhishek Chaudhuri, Anupam Kundu, Dibyendu Roy, Abhishek Dhar, Joel L. Lebowitz, Herbert Spohn

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76 Scopus citations


We investigate the steady-state heat current in two- and three-dimensional disordered harmonic crystals in a slab geometry connected at the boundaries to stochastic white-noise heat baths at different temperatures. The disorder causes short-wavelength phonon modes to be localized so the heat current in this system is carried by the extended phonon modes which can be either diffusive or ballistic. Using ideas both from localization theory and from kinetic theory we estimate the contribution of various modes to the heat current and from this we obtain the asymptotic system size dependence of the current. These estimates are compared with results obtained from a numerical evaluation of an exact formula for the current, given in terms of a frequency-transmission function, as well as from direct nonequilibrium simulations. These yield a strong dependence of the heat flux on boundary conditions. Our analytical arguments show that for realistic boundary conditions the conductivity is finite in three dimensions but we are not able to verify this numerically, except in the case where the system is subjected to an external pinning potential. This case is closely related to the problem of localization of electrons in a random potential and here we numerically verify that the pinned three-dimensional system satisfies Fourier's law while the two-dimensional system is a heat insulator. We also investigate the inverse participation ratio of different normal modes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number064301
JournalPhysical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics
Issue number6
StatePublished - 24 Feb 2010


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