Stochastic simulation of nonequilibrium heat conduction in extended molecular junctions

Inon Sharony, Renai Chen*, Abraham Nitzan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Understanding phononic heat transport processes in molecular junctions is a central issue in the developing field of nanoscale heat conduction. Here, we present a Langevin dynamics simulation framework to investigate heat transport processes in molecular junctions at and beyond the linear response regime and apply it to saturated and unsaturated linear hydrocarbon chains connecting two gold substrates. Thermal boundary conditions represented by Markovian noise and damping are filtered through several (up to four) gold layers to provide a realistic and controllable bath spectral density. Classical simulations using the full universal force field are compared with quantum calculations that use only the harmonic part of this field. The close agreement found at about room temperature between these very different calculations suggests that heat transport at such temperatures is dominated by lower frequency vibrations whose dynamics is described well by classical mechanics. The results obtained for alkanedithiol molecules connecting gold substrates agree with previous quantum calculations based on the Landauer formula and match recent experimental measurements [e.g., thermal conductance around 20 pW/K for alkanedithiols in single-molecule junctions (SMJs)]. Heat conductance simulations on polyynes of different lengths illuminate the effects of molecular conjugation on thermal transport. The difference between alkanes and polyynes is not large but correlates with the larger rigidity and stronger mode localization that characterize the polyyne structure. This computational approach has been recently used [R. Chen, I. Sharony, and A. Nitzan, J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 11, 4261-4268 (2020)] to unveil local atomic heat currents and phononic interference effect in aromatic-ring based SMJs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number144113
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number14
StatePublished - 14 Oct 2020


FundersFunder number
U. S. National Science FoundationCHE1665291
University of Pennsylvania


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