pho·​non ˈfō-ˌnän How to pronounce phonon (audio)
: a quantum of vibrational energy (as in a crystal)

Examples of phonon in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Instead of knocking excitons around, phonons in this molecule bind to them to create a new quasiparticle that flow freely through the semiconductor at twice the speed of electrons. IEEE Spectrum, 26 Dec. 2023 The secret to its speed lies the behavior of phonons, quasiparticles formed from vibrations in a solid. IEEE Spectrum, 26 Dec. 2023 When laser power becomes strong enough in optical fibers, the light can interact with phonons. IEEE Spectrum, 6 Dec. 2023 These heated surroundings can then pass heat back to the cooler in the form of phonons. IEEE Spectrum, 12 Sep. 2023 In solid materials, these vibrations travel as quasiparticles known as phonons. IEEE Spectrum, 12 Sep. 2023 However, the phonons in the nanopillars are standing waves, pinned by the walls of the columns much the way a vibrating guitar string is held fixed at both ends. IEEE Spectrum, 5 June 2023 Other superconductors use entirely different mechanisms that don’t require phonons at all, or react to magnetic fields in different ways (Type I and Type II superconductors), and some even reach Tc at temperatures scientists once thought impossible. Darren Orf, Popular Mechanics, 15 Aug. 2023 In quantum entanglement, each phonon is in a superposition of reflected and transmitted, but the two phonons are locked together. Andrew N. Cleland, The Conversation, 5 July 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'phonon.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from Russian fonon, from Greek phōnḗ "sound made by something living, voice" + Russian -on -on entry 2 — more at -on entry 2 — more at phono-

First Known Use

1932, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of phonon was in 1932

Dictionary Entries Near phonon

Cite this Entry

“Phonon.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Apr. 2024.

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