Steady-state thermal transport in nanostructures with dimensions comparable to the phonon mean-free-path is examined. Both the case of contacts at different temperatures with no internal heat generation and contacts at the same temperature with internal heat generation are considered. Fourier’s Law results are compared to finite volume method solutions of the phonon Boltzmann equation in the gray approximation. When the boundary conditions are properly specified, results obtained using Fourier’s Law without modifying the bulk thermal conductivity are in essentially exact quantitative agreement with the phonon Boltzmann equation in the ballistic and diffusive limits. The errors between these two limits are examined in this paper. For the four cases examined, the error in the apparent thermal conductivity as deduced from a correct application of Fourier’s Law is less than 6%. We also find that the Fourier’s Law results presented here are nearly identical to those obtained from a widely used ballistic-diffusive approach, but analytically much simpler. Although limited to steady-state conditions with spatial variations in one dimension and to a gray model of phonon transport, the results show that Fourier’s Law can be used for linear transport from the diffusive to the ballistic limit. The results also contribute to an understanding of how heat transport at the nanoscale can be understood in terms of the conceptual framework that has been established for electron transport at the nanoscale.

Date of this Version