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Top Story

Study proves that magnets can control heat and sound

Researchers have discovered how to control heat with a magnetic field. The study is the first ever to prove that acoustic phonons—the elemental particles that transmit both heat and sound—have magnetic properties. In the study, researchers describe how a magnetic field roughly the size of a medical MRI reduced the amount of heat flowing through a semiconductor by 12 percent. The name “phonon” sounds a lot like “photon.” That’s because researchers consider them to be cousins: Photons are particles of light, and phonons are particles of heat and sound. But researchers have studied photons intensely for a hundred years—ever since Einstein discovered the photoelectric effect. Phonons haven’t received as much attention, and not a lot is known about them beyond their properties of heat and sound. This study shows that phonons have magnetic properties, too.

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