Scientists recently created a novel metallic device in which electrons may freely flow like water through a conduit, allowing for a fundamental shift in behavior from particle to fluid dynamics. This may usher in a new era of technological gadgets.
They shared the details of their study, titled "Evidence of a Coupled Electron-Phonon Liquid in Nbge2," in the journal Nature Communications.
A Novel Metal That Allows Electrons to Flow 'Like Water'
Fazel Tafti, a Boston College assistant physics professor, and colleagues from Florida State University and the University of Texas-Dallas found a strong link between phonons and electrons that alters the flow of electrons from their usual diffusive motion to a hydrodynamic motion. This is the first time experts found an electron-phonon liquid within the NbGe2 material.
In a statement obtained by Phys.org, Tafiti claimed they intended to verify a recent prediction of the 'electron-phonon fluid.' He also underlined how phonons are the vibrations of a crystal structure. Electrons are generally dispersed by phonons, according to Tafiti.
In metals, this would result in the normal diffusive migration of electrons. As a result, according to Tafiti, a new theory reveals that when electrons and phonons interact intensely, they create a unified electron-phonon liquid.
According to Tafti, this new liquid will flow within the metal in the same manner as water does down a pipe. Tafti and colleagues hope that this finding will spur additional research into the new material and its many uses by confirming their expectations. Windows To The Universe said circuits usually rely on the movement of water via pipes and the flow of electrons through electrical wires.
While the "pipeline" concept seems identical in both situations, they are vastly different in reality. According to the rules of hydrodynamics, water moves as a continuous fluid rather than separate molecules. On the other hand, electrons stubbornly flow as single particles and disperse throughout metals when lattice vibrations tear them apart.
Linking Electrons With Hydrodynamics in Other Materials Could Lead to New Electronic Devices
According to Tech Explorist, the study team used three experimental approaches to emphasize the new metal's ability to carry electricity. The unique fluid-like flow of electrons induced a change in motion in the vibration of the NbGe2 crystal, which was shown by Raman scattering. X-ray diffraction showed the crystal structure, while electrical resistivity studies indicated an excess electron mass. Quantum oscillations, a technique that enabled the researchers to observe that the electrons' mass in all paths was triple what they expected, was particularly beneficial in estimating the mass of electrons in the material. This was unexpected since the researchers didn't expect such "heavy electrons" in apparently bare metal, Tafti said in Innovative News Network. The researchers eventually realized that a strong electron-phonon interaction caused the heavy electron behavior.
Because electrons interact strongly with lattice vibrations, called phonons, the lattice 'drags' them, giving the impression that they have gained mass and grown heavy. According to Tafti, researchers will find ways to control the hydrodynamic fluid of electrons in materials other than NbGe2, which might lead to a new generation of electronic devices with electrons that can travel in the fluid regime.
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