Isolated vibrations within a three-dimensional solid have been observed for the first time by researchers in the U.S. and Germany. The work could help explain how metals such as uranium behave when bent, compressed or heated.
Normally, atoms in a crystal will pass their vibrational energy to their neighbors. But under some circumstances, theory predicts that a small patch of atoms could vibrate in place. This is the first time that these "lattice solitons" have been detected in a three-dimensional solid, said Michael Manley, visiting professor of chemical engineering and materials science at UC Davis and a researcher at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, who is first author on the paper.
The researchers used X-ray and neutron scattering experiments to identify lattice solitons in heated uranium crystals. The results show that the isolated vibrations play an important role in uranium metal, something no one had previously considered, Manley said.
Andy Fell | EurekAlert!
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