Radiative heat exchange driven by acoustic vibration modes between two solids at the atomic scale

MG Viloria and Y Guo and S Merabia and R Messina and P Ben-Abdallah, PHYSICAL REVIEW B, 108, L201402 (2023).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevB.108.L201402

When two solids are separated by a vacuum gap of thickness smaller than the wavelength of acoustic phonons, the latter can tunnel across the gap thanks to van der Waals forces or electrostatic interactions. Here we show that these mechanical vibration modes can also contribute significantly, at the atomic scale, to the nonlocal radiative response of polar materials. By combining molecular-dynamics simulations with fluctuational-electrodynamics theory, we investigate the near-field radiative heat transfer between two slabs due to this optomechanical coupling and highlight its dominant role at cryogenic temperatures. These results pave the way to exciting avenues for the control of heat flux and the development of cooling strategies at the atomic scale.

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