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Like fish on waves: electrons go surfing
Date:9/22/2011

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. 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
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Contact: Prof. Dr. Andreas Wieck
andreas.wieck@rub.de
49-234-322-6726
Ruhr-University Bochum
Source:Eurekalert

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