Ultrafast Flash Thermal Conductance of Molecular Chains

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Science  10 Aug 2007:
Vol. 317, Issue 5839, pp. 787-790
DOI: 10.1126/science.1145220

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At the level of individual molecules, familiar concepts of heat transport no longer apply. When large amounts of heat are transported through a molecule, a crucial process in molecular electronic devices, energy is carried by discrete molecular vibrational excitations. We studied heat transport through self-assembled monolayers of long-chain hydrocarbon molecules anchored to a gold substrate by ultrafast heating of the gold with a femtosecond laser pulse. When the heat reached the methyl groups at the chain ends, a nonlinear coherent vibrational spectroscopy technique detected the resulting thermally induced disorder. The flow of heat into the chains was limited by the interface conductance. The leading edge of the heat burst traveled ballistically along the chains at a velocity of 1 kilometer per second. The molecular conductance per chain was 50 picowatts per kelvin.

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