"Normally these waves, or phonons, are only able to carry heat within, and not between, materials. However, the new research shows that phonons can reach across a gap as small as a nanometer, "tunneling" from one material to another to enhance heat transport."
"This is right in the regime where the language of conduction and radiation is blurred," says Vazrik Chiloyan, an MIT graduate student in mechanical engineering. "We're trying to come up with a clear picture of what the physics are in this regime. Now we've brought information together to demonstrate tunneling is, in fact, what's going on for the heat-transfer picture."
Chiloyan and Gang Chen, the Carl Richard Soderberg Professor of Power Engineering and head of MIT's Department of Mechanical Engineering, publish their results this week in Nature Communications.
For the full article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150407141333.htm