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Why can't optical phonons travel far?

by joelio36
Tags: optical, phonons, travel
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Jan31-13, 11:39 AM
P: 22
I can't figure this out/find the answer. Why are acoustic phonons very low loss (i.e. earthquake P and S waves), but optical phonons die out rapidly?

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Simon Bridge
Jan31-13, 08:55 PM
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What mechanisms have you considered?
In what sense are phonons "low loss"? What does that mean exactly?
Feb2-13, 06:59 AM
P: 4
The energy loss is low is because of the low frequency/longer wavelength phonon - which does not coincide with the size of the molecules/atoms. The higher frequencies/shorter wavelength phonon is likely to coincide with the size of the molecules/atoms, and thus losing its energy through resonating the energy through all the molecules/atoms. This is the cause of energy attenuation.

Another factor is energy dissipation: By having the size of molecules/atoms coinciding close to that of the phonon, the phonon streams is more likely to be reflected/refracted and thus dissipated.

Both of these factors can help to explain why longer wavelength can travel far, low signal loss.

Another possible explanation is the phonon density: higher frequencies phonon matches with that of smaller atoms/molecular structures, which occurred at a higher density/number, and thus is able to spread the energy faster. Lower frequencies/longer wavelength need larger molecular structures (or multiple atom forming a macro-structures), which occur at a much lower densities, and thus is less able to spread the energy faster.

Another possible dissipative phenomena is electron-phonon coupling, which is more likely to happen for higher frequencies phonons.

These are my layman's perspective of what's happening, but from a specialist point of view (beyond me), u can refer to: (on resonance) (which correlate the wavelength of the phonon with the size of the molecule/atom)

and (on electron-phonon coupling)

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