Journal Title

Physical Review B

Publication Date



We report the results of experiments designed to investigate the feasibility of amplifying a phonon signal using the evaporation of helium from a superfluid film and its subsequent readsorption onto a helium-free surface. We envision a multistage amplifier in which helium is evaporated from a wafer with a helium film only on one side and then adsorbed onto the film-free surface of a similar wafer. The phonons created by the adsorption reach the film on the opposite side of the wafer and potentially desorb more helium than was evaporated by the first wafer. The amplification would come from the high ratio of the binding energy of a helium atom to a film-free surface relative to the binding energy to the liquid. A number of experiments are reported that investigate the efficiencies of the individual steps of the process. The gain per stage is found to be about 3 for high-energy densities in which multiphonon processes are possible. At low-energy densities, the energy deposited into a film-free wafer is found to be less than the original input energy, with the ratio of output to input energy 0.2. Since in applications requiring amplification the phonon density produced by the adsorption of helium on a wafer will be low, the configuration we have studied—phonons produced in silicon coated with a saturated He4 film—will not result in amplification. However, other configurations might improve the efficiency enough to make an amplifier possible.


Phonons; Phonons--Scattering

Publication Information

Copyright 1996 American Physical Society. The original published version of this article may be found at





Document Type

Journal Article