Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Heat usually moves by atomic vibrations that are limited by the speed of sound. Heat also can move by particles (phasons) related to atomic rearrangements that change with the movement of waves in the crystal structure. Using neutron scattering, scientists discovered supersonic phasons that could remove harmful heat in electronics and send signals faster. Phasons were observed in a mineral containing titanium (gray) and silicate (orange) polyhedrons linked at their corners. (Oxygen is red, while barium is the large blue spheres.) Below a critical temperature, the polyhedrons began to twist and slide (arrows).