Controlling the energy flow in nonlinear lattices: a model for a thermal rectifier

Phys Rev Lett. 2002 Mar 4;88(9):094302. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.88.094302. Epub 2002 Feb 14.


We address the problem of heat conduction in 1D nonlinear chains; we show that, acting on the parameter which controls the strength of the on-site potential inside a segment of the chain, we induce a transition from conducting to insulating behavior in the whole system. Quite remarkably, the same transition can be observed by increasing the temperatures of the thermal baths at both ends of the chain by the same amount. The control of heat conduction by nonlinearity opens the possibility to propose new devices such as a thermal rectifier.