News of the WeekPhysics

Heat Flow Runs Into Quantum Limit

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Science  28 Apr 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5466, pp. 591-592
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5466.591a

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A team of physicists has found that they can filter out all but a handful of heat vibrations by making them jiggle down a tiny beam only a few billionths of a meter thick. The findings, reported in Nature, raise the prospect of observing individual vibrations, called phonons. They also provide a warning for scientists and engineers hoping to create wires or machines only a few molecules thick: Such devices may overheat in a hurry.