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Scientists at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), working with the University of Latvia, the University of Berlin, Cambridge University and University College London, have developed a tomographic method to visualize the state of solitary electrons emitted from electron pumps.
Electron pumps are semiconductor devices that trap and emit single electrons 'on-demand.' The control of single electrons is a potentially useful technique for future quantum technology platforms, supporting precision electrical metrology, high-speed sensing, and quantum computation/communications.
Method - Mapping - Shape - Electron - Plane
The new method enables mapping of the shape of the electron in the energy-time plane and may reveal the quantum state of the electron. This would help development of quantum sensing schemes or enable encoding of quantum information onto the electron state.
It is often convenient to think of electricity as the flow of a continuous fluid and ignore its granularity. Even small electrical currents in the microampere range correspond to many trillions (1012) of electrons per second and the movement of individual electrons is often not apparent. Typically, the intrinsic "lumpiness" of electricity only reveals itself in the unwelcome form of background ("shot") noise in electronic components.
Development - Devices - Metal/semiconductor - Structures - Scientists
The development of nanometre-scale devices in highly-engineered metal/semiconductor structures have enabled scientists to take control of single electron effects for useful purposes. Single electron devices can be used as sensors of electric field, cryogenic thermometers, and as building blocks for certain kinds of "qubit."
The recent redefinition of the SI ampere enables single electron pumps to be used as primary current standards, creating a known current one electron at a time.
Use - Source - Electrons - Waveguide - Edge
Another use of this "ultimate current source" is to inject single electrons into the waveguide that can exist along the edge of a semiconductor in a magnetic field. These electrons can travel for very long distances (tens of micrometers) without scattering. This effect provides a platform which is often loosely described as...
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