Wednesday, October 24, 2012

1210.6309 (A. A. Maznev et al.)

Reciprocity in reflection and transmission: what is a "phonon diode"?    [PDF]

A. A. Maznev, A. G. Every, O. B. Wright
The newly popular topic of "phonon diodes" is discussed in the context of a broader issue of reciprocity in reflection/transmission (R/T) of waves. We first review a theorem well known in electromagnetism and optics but underappreciated in acoustics and phonon physics, stating that the matrix of R/T coefficients for properly normalized amplitudes is symmetric for linear systems that conform to power conservation and time reversibility for wave fields. It is shown that linear structures proposed for "acoustic diodes" in fact do obey R/T reciprocity, and thus should not strictly be called diodes or isolators. We also review examples of non-linear designs violating reciprocity, and conclude that an efficient acoustic isolator has not yet been demonstrated. Finally, we consider the relationship between acoustic isolators and "thermal diodes", and show that ballistic phonon transport through a linear structure, whether an acoustic diode or not, does not form the basis for a thermal diode.
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