A team of researches has discovered that magnetic fields can have a great impact over heat and sound waves.
The scientists specialized in nanotechnology from Ohio State University discovered that magnets can impact our lives in ways that were not believed possible before. Years after researchers have used them for medical imaging or quantum computing, and also in astronomy, where natural magnetism is used to amplify signals of light from distant galaxies, the new report states that it a new way of controlling acoustic phonons was discovered.
In the results published in the Nature Materials, the team from Ohio State University announced that these particles that transmit heat and sound waves can be guided by using a magnetic field by the size of a regular MRI machine, which is used in medicine.
Even though heat and sound seem to be very different, they share the same origin. In quantum mechanics term, both sound and heat are the expressions of the same form of energy.
Lead researcher of the study Joseph Heremans said that the discovery adds a new dimension to our understanding of acoustic waves. “We’ve shown that we can steer heat magnetically. With strong enough magnetic fields, we should be able to steer sound waves, also”, he explained.
Phonons, which are considered to be the cousins of photons, are particles of heat and sound. Since Albert Einstein discovered the photoelectric effect, researchers have looked with great interest at the properties of lights which reveal not only their magnetic properties, but also their dual forms. On the other hand, phonons have been neglected by major studies, mostly because their properties are revealed when they affect other materials, and rarely when they act alone.
“Heat is conducted through materials by the vibrations of atoms. The hotter a material is, the faster the atoms vibrate. Sound is also a vibration of atoms”, the lead researcher said.
In the study the scientists have shown that in exploiting a strong enough magnetic field they managed to reduce the amount of heat flowing through a semiconductor by more than 12 percent. The researchers think that with stronger magnets they will be able to control the proliferation of sound waves.
The scientists believe that in the future, people could control heat in substances which are not magnetic, such as stone, glass, and plastic.
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