Emergence of Fourier's Law of Heat Transport in Quantum Electron Systems

Sosuke Inui, Charles A. Stafford, Justin P. Bergfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The microscopic origins of Fourier's venerable law of thermal transport in quantum electron systems has remained somewhat of a mystery, given that previous derivations were forced to invoke intrinsic scattering rates far exceeding those occurring in real systems. We propose an alternative hypothesis, namely, that Fourier's law emerges naturally if many quantum states participate in the transport of heat across the system. We test this hypothesis systematically in a graphene flake junction and show that the temperature distribution becomes nearly classical when the broadening of the individual quantum states of the flake exceeds their energetic separation. We develop a thermal resistor network model to investigate the scaling of the sample and contact thermal resistances and show that the latter is consistent with classical thermal transport theory in the limit of large level broadening.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4304-4311
Number of pages8
JournalACS Nano
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 22 2018


  • Fourier law
  • heat transport
  • local temperature measurement
  • quantum transport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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