Every day we are surrounded by hundreds of different sounds. Have you ever thought about the structure of sound? From the course of school physics, we know about sound waves, but everything in our Universe consists of elementary particles. And the sound wave is no exception. In order to thoroughly examine what constitutes sound, physicists from Stanford University have created a very sensitive microphone. It can be called to some extent a “quantum microphone”, because it can catch the vibrations of elementary sound particles, called phonons.
What is a phonon
Back in 1907, Albert Einstein suggestedthe possibility of the existence of phonons. It is a particle, which is a cluster of vibrational energy. Phonons are emitted by excited atoms and appear as sound of different frequencies. Each phonon contains a certain amount of vibrational energy. The unit of energy is indicated by the term Fock. If 1 Fock is recorded in the sound wave, it means it contains 1 phonon. If 2 Fock - 2 phonons and so on. It is on the principle of measuring Fock that the work of the “quantum microphone” is based.
What is a “quantum microphone” and how does it work?
A quantum microphone is a cooledto ultra-low temperature resonator. But you cannot see it with the naked eye, as it is so small that it can only be seen under an electron microscope with a high magnification. The resonator is connected to a circuit in which pairs of bound electrons circulate. The deviation in the motion of these pairs of electrons arises as a result of the action of phonons on them. This impact and catches the resonator, records and transmits to the system for analysis.
Why do we need a "quantum microphone"
First of all, the device is necessary in orderto more accurately study the nature of sound waves, as well as to understand the process of phonon formation. Moreover, when a mode of operation is changed, a “quantum microphone” is capable of producing single phonons itself. That is, it can literally be used as a generator of elementary particles (in this case only particles of sound) and, unlike the Large Hadron Collider, it does not need to carry out collisions of particles at high speeds. Everything happens due to the generation of minor vibrations at the atomic level.
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This will create microscopic devices,capable of storing and reproducing quantum information encoded in the parameters of elementary particles of sound (phonons). In addition, such systems can act as converters of mechanical signals into optical signals and vice versa, which can be used to create quantum computers and other elements of high-tech gadgets in the future.
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