In condensed matter physics, a phonon is a collective excitation in a periodic, elastic arrangement of atoms or molecules in condensed matter, such as solids and some liquids. Often referred to as a quasiparticle, it represents an excited state in the quantum mechanical quantization of the modes of vibrations of elastic structures of interacting particles. Phonons play a major role in many of the physical properties of condensed matter, such as thermal conductivity and electrical conductivity.
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A team of researchers from MIT and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology have successfully coaxed a single quantum vibration ...