For the first time, scientists have captured video of the movement of heat through material at the nanoscale. Using an ultrafast electron microscope, scientists at the University of Minnesota were able to watch thermal conductivity at the speed of sound.
Whether engineers are building a bridge or designing a computer chip, understanding the movement of heat is vital. Now, scientists can begin to learn how atomic and nanoscale features in different materials affect the movement of heat.
Materials scientists are constantly working to better control the movement of heat, whether it's to retain energy efficiency or prevent overheating. The latest findings -- detailed in the journal Nature Communications -- will surely help their cause.
To spark thermal movement, researchers hit crystalline semiconducting materials of tungsten diselenide and germanium with a quick laser pulse. The team of scientists then used a state-of-the-art electron microscope to capture videos slowed to a billionth of the normal speed recording speed.
The record-setting videos captured thermal details at a time scale measured in femtoseconds -- one millionth of one billionth of a second.