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Understanding phonons

  1. Apr 4, 2007 #1


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    I'm making my way through 'The Trouble with Physics' and am getting my head around phonons.

    It sounds to me like
    - phonons are a sort of virtual particle that results from emergent properties of the underlying forces
    - (IMHO) photons-as-particles could be considered phonons resulting from the underlying electromagnetic wave (thus the dual nature of light)
    - (IMHO) the current flow in a wire in the positive direction (i.e. opposite the movement of electrons) is actually a moving "electron hole", and this moving positive charge can be considered as a (positively-charged) phonon particle.

    Am I barking mad?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 4, 2007 #2


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    I always thought that phonons where just a quantumized form of vibrations in matter. In other words, packets of vibrations, just like photons can be thought of as packets of EM waves.
  4. Apr 5, 2007 #3


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    Ah. OK, so it's limited to sound-like propogation. That does gel with what the book was saying, I was over-enthusiastic.
  5. Apr 14, 2007 #4
    More precisely: sound-like propagation is only a particular kind. Phonons are linkened to vibrations but these can be acustical or optical. You find difference in a bi-atomic chain in which vibrations take place in-phase or out of phase. Modes can be longitudinal or transverse. Phonons are optical with an interaction with em field occurs.
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