Irreversible thermodynamics of transport across interfaces Academic Article uri icon


  • With spintronics applications in mind, we use irreversible thermodynamics to derive the rates of entropy production and heating near an interface when heat current, electric current, and spin current cross it. Associated with these currents are apparent discontinuities in temperature (T), electrochemical potential ([Formula: see text]), and spin-dependent magnetoelectrochemical potential ([Formula: see text]). This work applies to magnetic semiconductors and insulators as well as metals, because of the inclusion of the chemical potential, , which is usually neglected in works on interfacial thermodynamic transport. We also discuss the (nonobvious) distinction between entropy production and heat production. Heat current and electric current are conserved, but spin current is not, so it necessitates a somewhat different treatment. At low temperatures or for large differences in material properties, the surface heating rate dominates the bulk heating rate near the surface. We also consider the case where bulk spin currents occur in equilibrium. Although a surface spin current (in A/m2) should yield about the same rate of heating as an equal surface electric current, production of such a spin current requires a relatively large magnetization potential difference across the interface.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Sears, M. R., & Saslow, W. M.

citation count

  • 12

complete list of authors

  • Sears, Matthew R||Saslow, Wayne M

publication date

  • October 2011