Negative Thermophoresis in Concentric Carbon Nanotube Nanodevices

Positive and negative thermophoresis in fluids has found widespread applications from mass transport to molecule manipulation. In solids, although positive thermophoresis has been recently discovered in both theoretical and experimental studies, negative thermophoresis has never been reported. Here we reveal via molecular dynamics simulations that negative thermophoresis does exist in solids. We consider the motion of a single walled carbon nanotube nested inside of two separate outer tubes held at different temperatures. It is found that a sufficiently long inner tube will undergo negative thermophoresis, whereas positive thermophoresis is favorable for a relatively short inner tube. Mechanisms for the observed positive thermophoresis and negative thermophoresis are shown to be totally different. In positive thermophoresis, the driving force comes mainly from the thermally induced edge force and the interlayer attraction force, whereas the driving force for negative thermophoresis is mainly due to the thermal gradient force. These findings have enriched our knowledge of the fundamental driving mechanisms for thermophoresis in solids and may stimulate its further applications in nanotechnology.