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Thermal conductivity of highly porous Si in the temperature range 4.2 to 20 K

Katerina Valalaki and Androula Galiouna Nassiopoulou*

Author Affiliations

NCSR Demokritos/INN, Terma Patriarchou Grigoriou, Aghia Paraskevi, Athens 15310, Greece

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2014, 9:318  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-9-318

Published: 25 June 2014


We report on experimental results of the thermal conductivity k of highly porous Si in the temperature range 4.2 to 20 K, obtained using the direct current (dc) method combined with thermal finite element simulations. The reported results are the first in the literature for this temperature range. It was found that porous Si thermal conductivity at these temperatures shows a plateau-like temperature dependence similar to that obtained in glasses, with a constant k value as low as 0.04 W/m.K. This behavior is attributed to the presence of a majority of non-propagating vibrational modes, resulting from the nanoscale fractal structure of the material. By examining the fractal geometry of porous Si and its fractal dimensionality, which was smaller than two for the specific porous Si material used, we propose that a band of fractons (the localized vibrational excitations of a fractal lattice) is responsible for the observed plateau. The above results complement previous results by the authors in the temperature range 20 to 350 K. In this temperature range, a monotonic increase of k with temperature is observed, fitted with simplified classical models. The extremely low thermal conductivity of porous Si, especially at cryogenic temperatures, makes this material an excellent substrate for Si-integrated microcooling devices (micro-coldplate).


61.43.-j; 63.22.-m; 65.8.-g

Porous Si; Thermal conductivity; Cryogenic temperatures; Nanoscale semiconductors