On an atomic level is energy only transferred through phonons and photons - there's no other means atoms can absorb or give off energy & all chemical phenomena & physical transitions arise form exchange of phonons or photons?

  • $\begingroup$ What about the transfer of kinetic energy by colliding atoms and molecules, such as in heat conduction? $\endgroup$ – Bob D Dec 20 '19 at 22:25

On an atomic level is energy only transferred through phonons and photons

No. On the atomic level energy can be transferred by phonons, photons, and by the transferring of kinetic energy from one group of atoms and molecules to another group of atoms and molecules by collisions.

In the case of non-metallic solids, where the atoms and molecules form lattice structures, the more energetic (higher kinetic energy) vibrations of a higher temperature substance are transferred to the less energetic (lower kinetic energy) vibrations of a lower temperature substance (or lower temperature region of the same substance), by direct adjacent contact which then propagates as a wave in the structure, referred to as phonons. This is energy transfer by heat conduction for a non-metallic solid.

In the case of metals, the energy is transferred by collisions between the highly mobile electrons and other electrons, atoms, and molecules in the metal. This is also energy transfer by heat conduction.

And finally energy can be transferred by photons by several mechanisms. One is due to a temperature difference between substances that are separated by a vacuum. This is heat transfer by radiation, such as infrared radiation. Energy can also be transferred by photons without a temperature difference being involved. The absorption of microwave photons by causing the rotation of dipolar water molecules (giving them rotational kinetic energy) as in a microwave oven, is an example where temperature difference is not involved.

Hope this helps.

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  • $\begingroup$ Please accept my appolgies. I didn't mean to badmouth your work. Rather I meant to suggest that the purveyors of pop-sci factoids like the one in the question title can, if pressed for details, retreat to a definsible position. And also my opinion that the defensible position will be one that isn't very useful. Your treatment is more comprehensive and nuanced, and thus more useful. $\endgroup$ – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Dec 20 '19 at 23:39
  • $\begingroup$ No problem. I have always respected your work and that’s why I reacted the way I did . It was probably an over reaction. $\endgroup$ – Bob D Dec 20 '19 at 23:54

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