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# EEE539 Solid State Electronics

## 4. Phonons Vibrations of the

Crystalline Lattice
Issues that are addressed in this chapter
include:
Monoatomic lattice
Two atoms per primitive basis
Quantization of the elastic waves
The phonon momentum
Inelastic scattering by phonons
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Dispersion Relation Derivation
The assumption here is that the elastic response of the
solid is a linear function of the forces, which means that
the elastic energy is a quadratic function of the
displacement.

According to Hookes law, the total force on plane s is
caused by the displacement of planes (s-1) and (s+1),
i.e.

where C is a force constant between n.n. planes.
4.1 Monoatomic Lattice
( ) ( )
s s s s s
u u C u u C F + =
+ 1 1
u
s-1
u
s
u
s+1
M C
a
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The equation of motion of plane s is then

For the case of a harmonic response in both space and
time, i.e when

we arrive at the following dispersion relation

The significant wavevectors are found from:

( )
s s s
s
u u u C
dt
u d
M 2
1 1
2
2
+ =
+
t i isKa
s
e ue t x u
e
= ) , (
( )
2
4
sin
Ka
M
C
= e
a K a
e e e
e
ue
ue
u
u
iaK a n K ia n i
iKa
isKa
Ka s i
s
s
/ /
' ) / 2 ( 2
) 1 (
1
t s s t
= =
= =
t t
+
+

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A graphical representation of the dispersion relation is
shown in the figure below:

At the zone boundaries, the group velocity of the
waves is:

In the long wavelength limit Ka<<1, we have that the
velocity of the sound is independent of frequency, i.e.

e
K
t/a
t/a
0 ) 2 / cos( ) (
2
2
= t = =
e
=
t
M
Ca
K v
dK
d
v
s s
K v K a
s
M
C
= ~ e
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4.2 Two Atoms per Primitive Basis
Dispersion relation derivation
For the case when there are p-atoms in the primitive
cell, there are 3p branches out of which:
- 3 = acoustical branches: 1 LA and 2 TA branches
- 3(p-1) = optical branches: (p-1) LO and 2(p-1) TO

The problem we consider now is of a diatomic lattice
with two atoms per basis with masses M
1
and M
2

v
s-1
u
s-1
v
s
M
1
C
a
M
2
u
s
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The equations of motion are:

Again, for the case of harmonic response we arrive at a
following set of equations written in a matrix form:

The homogeneous set of equations has non-trivial
solutions when the determinant of the matrix is zero, that
leads to the following dispersion relation
( )
( )
s s s
s
s s s
s
v u u C
dt
v d
M
u v v C
dt
u d
M
2
2
1
2
2
2
1
2
2
1
+ =
+ =
+

( )
( )
0
2 1
1 2
2
2
2
1
=
(

e +
+ e

v
u
M C e C
e C M C
iKa
iKa
( ) | | 0 cos 1 2 ) ( 2
2 2
2 1
4
2 1
= + e + e Ka C C M M M M
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The exact solutions to this equation can be found, but it
is simpler to consider the two separate cases when
Ka<<1 (long wavelength limit) and the case when
Ka=t (at the boundary)
(a) Case Ka<<1 (long wavelength limit)
In this first case the two solutions are of the form:

(b) Case Ka= t (at the boundary)
In this second case the two solutions are of the form:
( )
2 1
2 2
2
2
2 1
2
1
2
. / 1 / 1 2
M M
a K C
const M M C
+
~ e
= + ~ e
1
2
2
2
2
1
/ 2
/ 2
M C
M C
~ e
~ e
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e
K
t/a
t/a
2
2
2
/ 2 M C ~ e
1
2
1
/ 2 M C ~ e
( )
2 1
2
1
/ 1 / 1 2 M M C + ~ e
2 1
2 2
2
2
2 M M
a K C
+
~ e

For Ka<<0 (long wavelength limit) and e=e
2
, we have:
One lattice wave to be moving against the other
lattice, i.e.

One can excite this mode with light waves optical
branch.
For Ka= t, we get that the two lattices are completely
decoupled from each other.
1 2
/ / M M v u =
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4.3 Quantization of the Elastic Waves
The energy of lattice vibration a is quantized, and the
quantum of energy is called a phonon, in analogy to
photons for quantization of the electromagnetic waves.
The energy of an elastic mode of vibration describing a
state of n-phonons is given by:

To calculate the energy of the mode, one starts from the
harmonic approximation for the displacement

The energy in a mode then equals kinetic and
potential energy. The kinetic energy is given by:
t i isKa
s
e e U t x u
e
=
0
) , (
( ) e + =
2
1
n E
n
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When equating the two expressions, we get:

To summarize, the amplitude of the oscillation U
0
is
proportional to the square root of the number of phonons
in a given mode.
( )
( )
2
0
2
8
1
2 2 2 2
0
2
1
2
2
1
n integratio temporal and spatial after
) ( sin ) ( cos . .
U V
t Kx U E K
dt
du
e

e e = =

( )
e
+
=
e = e +
V
n
U
U V n

) 2 / 1 (
2
0
2
0
2
8
1
2
1
2
1

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4.4 The Phonon Momentum
In here we give the discussion that phonons do not
carry any momentum, but for all practical purposes, one
can consider that phonons are particles that have:
large momentum, and
small energy, on the order of 30 to 80 meV .
The equation that governs the conservation of momen-
tum is of the form:

where the sign is for the phonon creation/annihilation
(absorption) process and G is the reciprocal lattice
vector.
G k K k' + =
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4.5 Inelastic Scattering by Phonons
The phonon dispersion curves e(K) are determined
via inelastic scattering of neutrons with the emission or
absorption of a phonon.
The angular width of the scattered neutron beam
gives information bearing on the lifetime of phonons.
The kinematics of the scattering of a neutron beam
by a crystal lattice are described via conservation of
momentum I conservation of energy:
n
k
n
M
k
M
k
2 2
'
2 2 2 2
G k K k'

= e
+ =