Some interesting new OSU research on how phonons react to magnetic field

Researchers at The Ohio State University have discovered how to control heat with a magnetic field.

Researchers at The Ohio State University have discovered how to control heat with a magnetic field. An experiment proved that the phonon—the elementary particle that carries heat and sound—has magnetic properties. Here Joseph Heremans, Ohio Eminent Scholar in Nanotechnology, holds an artist’s rendering of a phonon heating solid material. Artist’s rendering by Renee Ripley. Photo by Kevin Fitzsimons, courtesy of The Ohio State University.

Kudos to researchers at The Ohio State University for some landmark research receiving attention this week in not only the journal Nature Materials but also The Columbus Dispatch. The study, led by OSU postdoctoral researcher Hyungyu Jin, has revealed that it is possible for particles of heat and sound (phonons) to be controlled by magnetic fields. Specifically, they were able to demonstrate experimentally that “acoustic phonons of diamagnetic semiconductor (InSb) scatter more strongly from one another when a magnetic field is applied.” You can read this OSU news article that gives some background on what Jin and the team had to do to detect the phonons’ movement in the semiconductor material for their experiment. In part, it involved changing the semiconductor sample into the shape of a tuning fork and taking thermal measurements at cryogenic temperatures while adjusting the power to heaters mounted on the two arms of the fork. For this discovery, Lake Shore Cernox™ sensors were used to accurately measure the thermal gradients across the sample within a high magnetic field. To read more about the study, see the Nature Materials article (subscription required), “Phonon-induced diamagnetic force and its effect on the lattice thermal conductivity.”

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