Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Like fish on waves: electrons go surfing - RUB scientists report in “Nature”

22.09.2011
RUB scientists succeeded in moving individual electrons, report in “Nature” / On the way to complex quantum bits (“qubits”) and the computer of tomorrow

Physicists at the RUB, working in collaboration with researchers from Grenoble and Tokyo, have succeeded in taking a decisive step towards the development of more powerful computers. They were able to define two little quantum dots (QDs), occupied with electrons, in a semiconductor and to select a single electron from one of them using a sound wave, and then to transport it to the neighbouring QD.


3 D diagram: the electrons are yellow; the waves in the crystal are presented in red

A single electron “surfs” thus from one quantum dot to the next like a fish on a wave. Such manipulation of a single electron will in the future also enable the combination of considerably more complex quantum bits instead of classical bits (“0” and “1” states). The researchers have reported their results in “Nature”, one of the highest-impact-factor international scientific journals.

Semiconductor physics: a fisherman’s dream

Electrons can move as freely as fish in water in electric conductors (metals) and semiconductors such as silicon (Si) or gallium arsenide (GaAs), albeit not “swimming” of their own but moving owing to differences in voltage. Inside a metal, they are present as a huge number of fish that fill nearly the entire volume of water. In semiconductors, this “fish density” is not as high and so the distance between the electrons (fish) is much larger. The electrons can be concentrated in a thin layer near the surface by the application of an external voltage. The new method that the international team of researchers has developed now fulfils this “fisherman’s dream” for semiconductor physicists. The electron “fish” are all in one layer close to the surface and easily, individually accessible from the surface.

Fishing one from the quantum dot

Prof. Andreas Wieck, physicist at the RUB, points out that there are, however no, “big fish,” all electrons being similar and even always identical, undistinguishable objects. The method that the researchers from Germany, France and Japan used, nevertheless enables the “emission” of individual electrons from the QD, moving them over a specific distance and then detecting them at the neighbouring QD. A distance of four micrometres (μm) was used in the experiment – this is twenty times larger than a highly integrated transistor. Targeted transport of individual electrons is possible in the following way: First, a QD is defined between the tips of four electrodes to form this zero-dimensional object, containing some hundred electrons. The scientists subsequently send a sound wave along the semiconductor surface using interdigital (like two combs fitted together without touching each other) electrodes to which they apply a radio frequency voltage. This method functions in the opposite way as the electrical discharge of a piezo ignition system in which a crystal is deformed to attain a voltage. The researchers applied voltage to the crystal and thus deform it, and the alternating voltage leads to the formation of a sound wave.

The fish surfs on the wave

In a sample, this wave moves, for example, from left to right through the quantum dot at the velocity of sound – inside the crystal at three kilometres per second. Its height is adjusted so that it extracts exactly one “fish” from it. The latter subsequently surfs on the wave in a one-dimensional channel. The “fish” arrives at the neighbouring quantum dot 4 μm to the right thereof. The researchers were able to attain good statistics by repetition of the waves and measurements and thus capable of determining the reliability of the method. During the first experiments, the probability of emission and detection of a single electron with the wave was 96 and 92%, respectively.

The innovation: aligning the fish

It is not possible to differentiate between the electrons “fish”, but they can be differently aligned because they rotate like little spinning tops. This is called the “spin” of the electron. For example one can align a fish with “its head upwards,” let it be transported with the wave, and then detect it again at the target quantum dot still having “its head upwards.” The time for the spin to change is longer than the surfing time on the wave, so the probability of this occurring is very high. The quantum bits of the future will also consist of such spin-polarized electrons. The researchers attained their results with samples prepared by so-called molecular beam epitaxy at the chair of Applied Solid State Physics at the Ruhr University Bochum. They were structured in Tokyo and subsequently measured in Grenoble. But not only the samples, also a further development of this concept originates from Bochum: Prof. Wieck already published his vision of an electron directional coupler with two parallel one-dimensional channels, in which the electrons can skip from one to the other channel, 21 years ago. The research team has in the meantime realized this vision based on the results presented here. A further publication is therefore to follow shortly.

Title

Sylvain Hermelin, Shintaro Takada, Michihisa Yamamoto, Seigo Tarucha, Andreas D. Wieck, Laurent Saminadayar, Christopher Bäuerle and Tristan Meunier: Electrons surfing on a sound wave as a platform for quantum optics with flying electrons. DOI: 10.1038/nature10416

Further Information

Prof. Dr. Andreas Wieck, Angewandte Festkörperphysik, Fakultät für Physik und Astronomie der RUB, Tel. +49 234 32 26726, E-Mail: andreas.wieck@rub.de

Homepage: http://www.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/afp/

Editor: Jens Wylkop

Dr. Josef König | idw
Further information:
http://www.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/afp/

Further reports about: Semiconductor quantum dot single electron sound wave

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht NASA's Fermi catches gamma-ray flashes from tropical storms
25.04.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor
24.04.2017 | DGIST (Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology)

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA's Fermi catches gamma-ray flashes from tropical storms

25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers invent process to make sustainable rubber, plastics

25.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Transfecting cells gently – the LZH presents a GNOME prototype at the Labvolution 2017

25.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>