Journal of Materials Science

, Volume 51, Issue 23, pp 10408–10417 | Cite as

Crystalline coherence length effects on the thermal conductivity of MgO thin films

  • Kelsey E. Meyer
  • Ramez Cheaito
  • Elizabeth Paisley
  • Christopher T. Shelton
  • Jeffrey L. Braun
  • Jon-Paul Maria
  • Jon F. Ihlefeld
  • Patrick E. Hopkins
Original Paper


Phonon scattering in crystalline systems can be strongly dictated by a wide array of defects, many of which can be difficult to observe via standard microscopy techniques. We experimentally demonstrate that the phonon thermal conductivity of MgO thin films is proportional to the crystal’s coherence length, a property of a solid that quantifies the length scale associated with crystalline imperfections. Sputter-deposited films were prepared on (100)-oriented silicon and then annealed to vary the crystalline coherence, as characterized using x-ray diffraction line broadening. We find that the measured thermal conductivity of the MgO films varies proportionally with crystalline coherence length, which is ultimately limited by the grain size. The microstructural length scales associated with crystalline defects, such as small-angle tilt boundaries, dictate this crystalline coherence length, and our results demonstrate the role that this length scale has on the phonon thermal conductivity of thin films. Our results suggest that this crystalline coherence length scale provides a measure of the limiting phonon mean free path in crystalline solids, a quantity that is often difficult to measure and observe with more traditional imagining techniques.


Thermal Conductivity Coherence Length Thermal Conductivity Measurement Phonon Thermal Conductivity Thermal Boundary Conductance 



The authors would like to thank J. T. Gaskins for electron beam evaporation of the aluminum transducers. The authors acknowledge the use of the Analytical Instrument Facility (AIF) at North Carolina State University, which is supported by NSF contracts DMR 1337694 and DMR 1108071. This work was supported by the Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) program at Sandia National Laboratories, the Office of Naval Research (N00014-15-12769), and the National Science Foundation (EECS-1509362). Sandia National Laboratories is a multiprogram laboratory managed and operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Company, for the United States Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration under contract DE-AC04–94AL85000.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kelsey E. Meyer
    • 1
  • Ramez Cheaito
    • 1
    • 2
  • Elizabeth Paisley
    • 3
  • Christopher T. Shelton
    • 4
  • Jeffrey L. Braun
    • 1
  • Jon-Paul Maria
    • 4
  • Jon F. Ihlefeld
    • 3
  • Patrick E. Hopkins
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Mechanical and Aerospace EngineeringUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Mechanical EngineeringStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  3. 3.Electronic, Optical, and Nano Materials DepartmentSandia National LaboratoriesAlbuquerqueUSA
  4. 4.Department of Materials Science and EngineeringNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA

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