Solid-like heat transfer in confined liquids

Frank, Michael and Drikakis, Dimitris (2017) Solid-like heat transfer in confined liquids. Microfluidics and Nanofluidics, 21 (9). 148. ISSN 1613-4982 (

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The aim of this research is to identify possible mechanisms that govern heat transport at a solid-liquid interface using molecular dynamics. The study reveals that, unlike its bulk analogue, a liquid in a nanochannel sustains long-lived collective vibrations, phonons, which propagate over longer timescales and distances. The larger phonon mean free path in nanochannels is attributed to the greater structural order of the liquid atoms and to the larger liquid relaxation time–the time in which the liquid structure remains unchanged and solid-like. For channels of height less than 10σ, long-range phonons are the dominant means of heat transfer in the directions parallel to the channel walls. The present findings are in agreement with experiments, which have observed significantly increased liquid relaxation times for the same range of channel heights. Finally, it is argued that confinement introduces additional transverse modes of vibration that also contribute to the thermal conductivity enhancement.