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Posted: February 22, 2008
Switchyard for single electrons
(Nanowerk News) Scientists of the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) achieved to transfer very small charge "packets", comprising a well-defined number of few electrons, between metallic electrons precisely by using a single-electron pump.
A single-electron transistor, being able to resolve charge variations of a single electron or less, served as a charge detector to monitor the charge movement. The successful experiment is an important milestone on the way to the setup of a new standard for capacitance, where a capacitor is charged by a well-known number of electrons.
The corresponding voltage can be measured using a Josephson voltage standard. Tracing the capacitance to a resistance via the quantum-Hall effect finally allows the realisation of the so-called "Quantum Metrological Triangle", which establishes a link between all three electrical quantum effects. The precision aimed at in the experiment requires the demonstrated manipulation of charge on the scale of a single electron.