Liquid-like thermal conduction in intercalated layered crystalline solids

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Li, B.
Wang, H.
Kawakita, Y.
Zhang, Q.
Feygenson, M.
Yu, H. L.
Wu, D.
Ohara, K.
Kikuchi, T.
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Zhang, Qijing
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Ames National Laboratory

Ames National Laboratory is a government-owned, contractor-operated national laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), operated by and located on the campus of Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.

For more than 70 years, the Ames National Laboratory has successfully partnered with Iowa State University, and is unique among the 17 DOE laboratories in that it is physically located on the campus of a major research university. Many of the scientists and administrators at the Laboratory also hold faculty positions at the University and the Laboratory has access to both undergraduate and graduate student talent.

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Physics and Astronomy
Physics and astronomy are basic natural sciences which attempt to describe and provide an understanding of both our world and our universe. Physics serves as the underpinning of many different disciplines including the other natural sciences and technological areas.
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As a generic property, all substances transfer heat through microscopic collisions of constituent particles1. A solid conducts heat through both transverse and longitudinal acoustic phonons, but a liquid employs only longitudinal vibrations2,3. As a result, a solid is usually thermally more conductive than a liquid. In canonical viewpoints, such a difference also serves as the dynamic signature distinguishing a solid from a liquid. Here, we report liquid-like thermal conduction observed in the crystalline AgCrSe2. The transverse acoustic phonons are completely suppressed by the ultrafast dynamic disorder while the longitudinal acoustic phonons are strongly scattered but survive, and are thus responsible for the intrinsically ultralow thermal conductivity. This scenario is applicable to a wide variety of layered compounds with heavy intercalants in the van der Waals gaps, manifesting a broad implication on suppressing thermal conduction. These microscopic insights might reshape the fundamental understanding on thermal transport properties of matter and open up a general opportunity to optimize performances of thermoelectrics.