Thermal Measurements Using Bimaterial Cantilevers

Measurement of heat transport through single molecules has proven elusive in the study of nanoscale heat transfer. This measurement requires the ability to sense extremely small magnitudes of heat transfer. Estimates place the conductance of single molecules to be on the order of 10 pW/K. Thus, if a stable temperature differential of 0.1 K across a molecule can be achieved, we may be able to probe single molecule thermal properties with a picowatt-resolution thermal sensor.

The bi-material microcantilever is a particularly sensitive calorimeter. We have demonstrated that the conventional bi-material cantilever can be modified, without sacrificing the ease of measurement via the optical deflection technique, to enable sub-picowatt heat transfer detection. More sensitive measurements allow for study of interesting phenomena, including heat conduction through polymeric nanowires and the effects of molecular chain alignment which is believed to enhance thermal conductivity of polymers significantly compared to that of bulk polymer. 

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