Thermal conductivity of amorphous materials

Wu Xing Zhou, Yuan Cheng, Ke Qiu Chen, Guofeng Xie, Tian Wang, Gang Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

171 Citations (Scopus)


Thermal conductivity is one of the most fundamental properties of solid materials. The thermal conductivity of ideal crystal materials has been widely studied over the past hundreds years. On the contrary, for amorphous materials that have valuable applications in flexible electronics, wearable electrics, artificial intelligence chips, thermal protection, advanced detectors, thermoelectrics, and other fields, their thermal properties are relatively rarely reported. Moreover, recent research indicates that the thermal conductivity of amorphous materials is quite different from that of ideal crystal materials. In this article, the authors systematically review the fundamental physical aspects of thermal conductivity in amorphous materials. They discuss the method to distinguish the different heat carriers (propagons, diffusons, and locons) and the relative contribution from them to thermal conductivity. In addition, various influencing factors, such as size, temperature, and interfaces, are addressed, and a series of interesting anomalies are presented. Finally, the authors discuss a number of open problems on thermal conductivity of amorphous materials and a brief summary is provided.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1903829
Number of pages17
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • amorphous materials
  • heat carrier
  • localization
  • thermal conductivity

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