The phonon, like the photon or electron, is a physical particle that travels like waves, representing mechanical vibration. Phonons transmit everyday sound and heat. Recent progress in phononics has led to the development of new ideas and devices that are using phononic properties to control sound and heat, according to a new review in Nature.
Martin Maldovan, of the Georgia Institute of Technology, has published a review article on phononics in Nature.
Credit: Credit: Rob Felt.
One application that has scientists buzzing is the possibility of controlling sound waves by designing and fabricating cloaking shells to guide acoustic waves around a certain object – an entire building, perhaps – so that whatever is inside the shell is invisible to the sound waves.
The future possibilities for phonons might also solve the biggest challenges in energy consumption and buildings today. Understanding and controlling the phononic properties of materials could lead to novel technologies to thermally insulate buildings, reduce environmental noise, transform waste heat into electricity and develop earthquake protection, all by developing new materials to manipulate sound and heat.
These ideas are all possible in theory, but to make them a reality, phononics will have to inspire the same level of scientific innovation as electronics, and today that's not the case.
"People know about electrons because of computers, and electromagnetic waves because of cell phones, but not so much about phonons," said Martin Maldovan, a research scientist in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Maldovan's review article appeared online Nov. 13 in the journal Nature. In the article he blends eight different subjects in the field of phononics, describing advances in sonic and thermal diodes, optomechanical crystals, acoustic and thermal cloaking, hypersonic phononic crystals, thermoelectrics and thermocrystals.
These technologies "herald the next technological revolution in phononics," he said. All of these areas share a common theme: manipulating mechanical vibrations, but at different frequences.
The hottest fields in phononics, Maldovan said, is the development of acoustic and thermal metamaterials. These materials are capable of cloaking sound waves and thermal flows. The phononics approach to cloaking is based on electromagnetic cloaking materials that are already in use for light.
Maldovan, formerly a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, also conducts phononics research of his own. This past summer, Maldovan published an article in the journal Physical Review Letters, describing an invention for controlling the conduction of heat through solid objects.
Known as thermocrystals, this new area of phononics research seeks to manage heat waves in a similar manner as sound and light waves, by channeling the flow of heat at certain frequencies. The technology could lead to devices that convert heat into energy, or the thermal equivalent of diodes, which could help data centers solve the problem of massive heat generated by their servers.
"The field of Phononics is relatively new, and when you have something new you don't know what you will find," Maldovan said. "You're always thinking 'what can I do with that?'"
CITATION: M Maldovan. "Sound and heat revolutions in phononics," (Nature, 2013). DOI:10.1038/nature12608
Brett Israel | EurekAlert!
New type of low-energy nanolaser that shines in all directions
18.12.2018 | Eindhoven University of Technology
NASA research reveals Saturn is losing its rings at 'worst-case-scenario' rate
18.12.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Different eras of civilization are defined by the discovery of new materials, as new materials drive new capabilities. And yet, identifying the best material...
Researchers from the University of Basel have reported a new method that allows the physical state of just a few atoms or molecules within a network to be controlled. It is based on the spontaneous self-organization of molecules into extensive networks with pores about one nanometer in size. In the journal ‘small’, the physicists reported on their investigations, which could be of particular importance for the development of new storage devices.
Around the world, researchers are attempting to shrink data storage devices to achieve as large a storage capacity in as small a space as possible. In almost...
The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.
Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...
What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...
A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.
The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...
12.12.2018 | Event News
10.12.2018 | Event News
06.12.2018 | Event News
19.12.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.12.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.12.2018 | Life Sciences