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'Racetrack' for fast electrons in semiconductor structures
Date:8/29/2008

In order to realize the electrical units of voltage, resistance and current with highest accuracy quantum effects in nano-circuits are nowadays used. Important prerequisites are extremely pure semiconductor layers where high-mobile electrons move through the crystal without collision with residual impurities. To be prepared for future developments in quantum metrology PTB has set up a new molecular beam epitaxy system optimized for the fabrication of highest purity semiconductor structures. Already the first structures have shown ex-treme high electron mobility with a value five times better compared to the ones from the conventional epitaxy system. With this, PTB extends its leading position in electrical quantum metrology with semiconductor structures.

Semiconductors are the basic material for computer and home electronics. In electrical quantum metrology semiconductor devices are used in two areas. First, electrical resis-tance values are reproduced by the quantum-Hall effect with uncertainties below one part in a billion. Second, high mobile electron devices are used to fabricate single-electron pumps allowing controlled transport of electrons passing the device one by one. These single-electron pumps are a hot topic in metrology, today since they might allow the redefinition of the electrical current as a product of frequency and electron charge. Such definition would connect the current unit Ampere to a spatial and time invariant fundamental constant, the elementary charge.

For both applications semiconductor heterostructures made of GaAs and AlGaAs are em-ployed. In those crystals a few nanometer thin electron layer forms at the interface be-tween both materials which is called two-dimensional electron gas. The mobility of these electrons increases with decreasing impurities collisions and it is therefore a measure for the quality of the semiconductor structure.

The fabrication of pure semiconductors is achieved by molecular-
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Contact: Klaus Pierz
Klaus.Pierz@ptb.de
49-053-159-22412
Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB)
Source:Eurekalert

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