|An Impossible Scenario: Scientists Watch as Heat Moves at the Speed of Sound|
A rare phenomenon seen in just a handful of materials at forbidding temperatures has been detected within “warm” graphite—a finding that could aid future microelectronic
Ryan Duncan froze. He had just performed a new experiment examining common graphite—the stuff of pencil lead—but the results seemed physically impossible: Heat, which typically disperses slowly, had traveled through the graphite at the speed of sound. That is like placing a pot of water on a hot stove and instead of counting down the long minutes until that water starts to simmer, watching it boil almost instantaneously.
It is no wonder that Duncan, a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, could not quite believe his eyes. To ensure that he had not made a mistake, he quadruple-checked everything within his set-up, ran the experiment again, and took a mental-health break. “I tried to get some sleep, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to tell if the experiment was successful or not for several more hours, but I was finding it pretty difficult to shut down for the night,” he recalls. When Duncan’s alarm went off the next morning, he ran to his computer (still in his pajamas) and crunched the new measurements only to confront the same result: Heat had still moved impossibly fast.
Duncan and his colleagues published their results last week in the journal Science. The phenomenon, known as “second sound,” has physicists in a state of euphoria—in part because it could pave the way for advanced microelectronics, but mostly because it is so deeply weird.
Read More – Scientific American