Size effects in heat conduction, which occur when phonon mean free paths (MFPs) are comparable to characteristic lengths, are being extensively explored in many nanoscale systems for energy applications. Knowledge of MFPs is essential to understanding size effects, yet MFPs are largely unknown for most materials. Here, we introduce the first experimental technique which can measure MFP distributions over a wide range of length scales and materials. Using this technique, we measure the MFP distribution of silicon for the first time and obtain good agreement with first-principles calculations.
© 2011 American Physical Society