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Understanding energy dissipation and transport in nanoscale structures is of great importance for the design of energy-efficient circuits and energy-conversion systems. This is also a rich domain for fundamental discoveries at the intersection of electron, lattice (phonon), and optical (photon) interactions. This review presents recent progress in understanding and manipulation of energy dissipation and transport in nanoscale solid-state structures. First, the landscape of power usage from nanoscale transistors (~10−8 W) to massive data centers (~109 W) is surveyed. Then, focus is given to energy dissipation in nanoscale circuits, silicon transistors, carbon nanostructures, and semiconductor nanowires. Concepts of steady-state and transient thermal transport are also reviewed in the context of nanoscale devices with sub-nanosecond switching times. Finally, recent directions regarding energy transport are reviewed, including electrical and thermal conductivity of nanostructures, thermal rectification, and the role of ubiquitous material interfaces.

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Publication history

Received: 22 September 2009
Revised: 26 December 2009
Accepted: 05 January 2010
Published: 18 March 2010
Issue date: March 2010

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© The Author(s) 2010

Acknowledgements

Acknowledgements

I am indebted to Profs. D. Cahill, H. Dai, C. Dames, D. Jena, W. King, J. -P. Leburton, J. Lyding, and U. Ravaioli for many valuable discussions. I also thank Dr. M. -H. Bae for feedback on an earlier manuscript draft. This review was in part supported by the Nanoelectronics Research Initiative (NRI), the DARPA Young Faculty Award (No. HR0011-08-1-0035), the Office of Naval Research (No. N00014-09-1-0180), the National Science Foundation (No. CCF 08-29907), Intel Corp., and Northrop Grumman.

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Email: nanores@tup.tsinghua.edu.cn

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