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July 31, 2015

Artist's rendering depicting a phonon heating a solid material

An artist's rendering depicting a phonon heating a solid material. Atoms of the material, shown in orange, are joined with flexible atomic bonds, shown as springs. The phonon imparts heat by colliding with the center atom, creating a vibration in the springs. The trail of the passing phonon is marked with increased magnetic field intensity (shown in green). The figure in the lower left shows the direction of the applied magnetic field.

More about this image
Researchers at The Ohio State University have discovered how to control heat with a magnetic field. Their study is the first ever to prove that acoustic phonons -- the elemental particles that transmit both heat and sound -- have magnetic properties.

The researchers found that a sufficiently strong magnetic field can cause phonons to collide with each other and be deflected off-course, which slows the flow of heat through the material. Funding for the study came in part from the National Science Foundation (NSF), including funds from the NSF Materials Research Science and Engineering Center at Ohio State. Computing resources were provided by the Ohio Supercomputer Center.

To learn more about this research, see the Ohio State news story Landmark study proves that magnets can control heat and sound. (Date of Image: 2015)

Credit: Renee Ripley, courtesy of The Ohio State University

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