Direct imaging of Joule heating dynamics and temperature profiling inside a carbon nanotube interconnect

Pedro M.F.J. Costa*, Ujjal K. Gautam, Yoshio Bando, Dmitri Golberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Understanding resistive (or Joule) heating in fundamental nanoelectronic blocks, such as carbon nanotubes, remains a major challenge, particularly in regard to their structural and thermal variations during prolonged periods of electrical stress. Here we show real-time imaging of the associated effects of Joule heating in the channel of carbon nanotube interconnects. First, electrical contacts to nanotubes entirely filled with a sublimable material are made inside a transmission electron microscope. On exposure to a high current density, resistive hotspots are identified on (or near) the contact points. These later migrate and expand along the carbon nanotube, as indicated by the localized sublimation of the encapsulated material. Using the hotspot edges as markers, it is possible to estimate the internal temperature profiles of the nanotube. Simple and direct, our method provides remarkable spatial and temporal insights into the dynamics of resistive hotspots and millisecond-paced thermal variations occurring inside nanoscaled tubular interconnects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number421
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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