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The 5th International Conference on Phononic Crystals/Metamaterials, Phonon Transport & Topological Phononics will be held on the University of Arizona campus June 3-7, 2019. (Photo: FJ Gaylor)

UA Materials Science Engineers Lead Global Phononics Conference

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UA Materials Science Engineers Lead Global Phononics Conference

May 30, 2019
Experts from around the world gather in Tucson to take sound-based research up a notch.

Phononics 2019, one of the premiere international conferences in the field of phononics and acoustic metamaterials, is taking place on the University of Arizona campus June 3-7. Phononics, a rapidly growing field that first emerged in the late 1980s, is the study of phonons, a type of particle that carries sound and heat.

“The conference brings together pretty much the entire world’s community working in research on this topic,” said conference chair Pierre Deymier, who is also head of UA Department of Materials Science and Engineering. “We have a very strong research group in the field of phononics and acoustic metamaterials here in Tucson, and the UA is the leader of this conference and a leader in the field.”

Because phononics involves manipulating sound waves, it has applications ranging from telecommunications to information processing to environmental science. Sound is in your cellphone. It’s used for underwater sensing and imaging. Phonons could even enable high-speed computing.

Pierre Deymier, Phononics 2019 conference chair and head of the UA Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

“All of these are sound-based, phonon-based,” Deymier said. “Phononics researchers discovered in the 1990s that we can manipulate acoustic waves or phonons in a specific manner, and that gave power to engineers to create new technologies that are going to change people’s lives.”

Previous locations for the conference included Shangsha, China, in 2017; Paris, France, in 2015; and Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, in 2013. This year the University of Arizona, the College of Engineering and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering are program sponsors, along with the Office of Naval Research, the National Science Foundation and the French Consulate in Los Angeles.

Plenary speakers include Mathias Fink of the French Academy of Science, Gang Chen and Keith Nelson from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Tobias Kippenberg from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne, among many others distinguished researchers in the field from all over the world.

The international group will share ideas, approaches and technologies related to nine themes underlying research in phononics:

  • Phononic crystal design and fabrication
  • Acoustic metamaterial design and fabrication
  • Applications of phononic crystals and acoustic metamaterials
  • Temporally modulated phononic crystals and acoustic metamaterials
  • Topological acoustics and phononics
  • Nonlinear phononic crystals and acoustic metamaterials
  • Thermal phonons
  • Optomechanics and phonon coupling
  • Phononic crystals and acoustic metamaterials in biology

The UA has also secured funding from the National Science Foundation and the Office of Naval Research to fund fellowships to the conference for early-career scientists and underrepresented minorities.

“This is in the spirit of the UA being a Hispanic Serving Institution and increasing access not just to education, but also to conferences the university is leading,” Deymier said. “We are recognized worldwide for our phononics work. We’re trying to really serve as a catalyst for growing the field, bringing the community together and directing the focus of research in the field.”

Deymier’s co-chairs are Katia Bertoldi of Harvard University’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Nicholas Boechler of the University of California, San Diego’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. UA aerospace and mechanical engineering associate professor Samy Missoum and materials science and engineering assistant research professor Lazaro Calderin, professor Pierre Lucas, associate professor Krishna Muralidharan, and director of research Keith Runge are on the local organizing committee.