Bimodal Phonon Scattering in Graphene Grain Boundaries

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Graphene has served as the model 2D system for over a decade, and the effects of grain boundaries (GBs) on its electrical and mechanical properties are very well investigated. However, no direct measurement of the correlation between thermal transport and graphene GBs has been reported. Here, we report a simultaneous comparison of thermal transport in supported single crystalline graphene to thermal transport across an individual graphene GB. Our experiments show that thermal conductance (per unit area) through an isolated GB can be up to an order of magnitude lower than the theoretically anticipated values. Our measurements are supported by Boltzmann transport modeling which uncovers a new bimodal phonon scattering phenomenon initiated by the GB structure. In this novel scattering mechanism, boundary roughness scattering dominates the phonon transport in low-mismatch GBs, while for higher mismatch angles there is an additional resistance caused by the formation of a disordered region at the GB. Nonequilibrium molecular dynamics simulations verify that the amount of disorder in the GB region is the determining factor in impeding thermal transport across GBs.


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