Since the development of superconducting electronic devices there has been a need to develop a three terminal transistor like device sensitive enough to measure small voltage and current signals typical of those associated with single electron and photon events.
A group of researchers in the Department of Particle & Nuclear Physics at Oxford University has designed a superconducting device with properties analogous to those of a traditional semiconducting transistor. The Quatratran (Quasiparticle Trapping Transistor) has the ability to amplify small signals and also be utilised as an electronic switch. The Quatratran is sensitive enough to detect, and measure the energy of, single photons and hence has applications in infrared and X-ray astronomy, materials characterisation, and florescence measurements of biological samples.
With security being such an important issue at present, one of the most important potential applications of the technology is that it is capable of detecting nuclear radiation.
Kim Bruty | alfa
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