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What is a phonon?

  1. Mar 19, 2006 #1


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    I ran across the term phonon, looked it up, and it's described as a quantized vibration in a lattice structure. Is this analgous to photons being quantized vibrations in an electromagnetic field? I'm having hard time thinking of these as particles.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 19, 2006 #2
    Something like that. They're basically just collective excitations of the system. I think it's convenient to think of them as particles when you think about electron-phonon interactions or some other scattering process involving phonons.
  4. Mar 19, 2006 #3

    Claude Bile

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    Phonons are similar to holes (as in semiconductors) in that they exist only as perturbations in the medium they exist in. Holes aren't actual particles, they are an absence of an electron, however when Holes exist in a medium full of electrons, they can be regarded as poisitively charged particles and can even have properties such as effective mass ascribed to it.

    Phonons are perturbations in the lattice structure of a solid, and possess a definate momentum and energy. Phonons are not particles per se, but we can describe them as such, just as we can desribe holes as charged particles.

  5. Mar 20, 2006 #4


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    Thank you, much more clear in my mind now.
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