Phonon Catalysis Could Lead to a New FieldJune 23, 2021 | Asegun Henry
MIT News recently published an article about a paper recently published in Cell Reports Physical Science from the ASE Group. This paper shows modeling results of a new phenomenon referred to as “phonon catalysis”. The concept is that temperature has long been merely viewed as a scalar, when in reality it is a spectrum. When any physical/chemical transformation happens that has a corresponding reaction coordinate or pathway, there are certain collective vibrations that contribute to it. This study showed that if one could simply excite only the vibrations that contribute to the transformation, one can in effect catalyze the transformation, thereby accelerating it – similar to a catalyst, but with phonons instead of modifications to the potential energy landscape via the electronic structure. The discovery of this effect could give rise to an entirely new field, whereby this effect could be exploited to achieve many new results that were previously inconceivable, ranging from higher temperature superconductivity, to synthetic diamonds formed at much lower temperatures.