(ScienceDaily) Scientists at MIT and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology have for the first time created and observed a single phonon in a common material at room temperature.
Until now, single phonons have only been observed at ultracold temperatures and in precisely engineered, microscopic materials that researchers must probe in a vacuum. In contrast, the team has created and observed single phonons in a piece of diamond sitting in open air at room temperature. The results, the researchers say, “bring quantum behavior closer to our daily life.”
“So, not only are we able to probe the birth of a single phonon, but also we’re able to probe its death,” Sudhir says. “Now we can say, ‘go use this technique to study how long it takes for a single phonon to die out in your material of choice.’ That number is very useful. If the time it takes to die is very long, then that material can support coherent phonons. If that’s the case, you can do interesting things with it, like thermal transport in solar cells, and interconnects between quantum computers.”

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