Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors



Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > UK nanodevice builds electricity from tiny pieces: Scientists from the UK's National Physical Laboratory have developed a nano-device which could change the way we define electrical current

Abstract:
A team of scientists at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and University of Cambridge has made a significant advance in using nano-devices to create accurate electrical currents. Electrical current is composed of billions and billions of tiny particles called electrons. NPL scientists have developed an electron pump - a nano-device - which picks these electrons up one at a time and moves them across a barrier, creating a very well-defined electrical current.

UK nanodevice builds electricity from tiny pieces: Scientists from the UK's National Physical Laboratory have developed a nano-device which could change the way we define electrical current

Cambridge, UK | Posted on July 11th, 2012

The device drives electrical current by manipulating individual electrons, one-by-one at very high speed. This technique could replace the traditional definition of electrical current, the ampere, which relies on measurements of mechanical forces on current-carrying wires.

The key breakthrough came when scientists experimented with the exact shape of the voltage pulses that control the trapping and ejection of electrons. By changing the voltage slowly while trapping electrons, and then much more rapidly when ejecting them, it was possible to massively speed up the overall rate of pumping without compromising the accuracy.

By employing this technique, the team were able to pump almost a billion electrons per second, 300 times faster than the previous record for an accurate electron pump set at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the USA in 1996.

Although the resulting current of 150 picoamperes is small (ten billion times smaller than the current used when boiling a kettle), the team were able to measure the current with an accuracy of one part-per-million, confirming that the electron pump was accurate at this level. This result is a milestone in the precise, fast, manipulation of single electrons and an important step towards a re-definition of the unit ampere.

As reported in Nature Communications, the team used a nano-scale semiconductor device called a 'quantum dot' to pump electrons through a circuit. The quantum dot is a tiny electrostatic trap less than 0.0001 mm wide. The shape of the quantum dot is controlled by voltages applied to nearby electrodes.

The dot can be filled with electrons and then raised in energy. By a process known as 'back-tunneling', all but one of the electrons fall out of the quantum dot back into the source lead. Ideally, just one electron remains trapped in the dot, which is ejected into the output lead by tilting the trap. When this is repeated rapidly this gives a current determined solely by the repetition rate and the charge on each electron - a universal constant of nature and the same for all electrons.

The research makes significant steps towards redefining the ampere by developing the application of an electron pump which improves accuracy rates in primary electrical measurement.

Supporting quotes:

Masaya Kataoka of the Quantum Detection Group at NPL said.

"Our device is like a water pump in that it produces a flow by a cyclical action. The tricky part is making sure that exactly the same number of electronic charge is transported in each cycle."

"The way that the electrons in our device behave is quite similar to water; if you try and scoop up a fixed volume of water, say in a cup or spoon, you have to move slowly otherwise you'll spill some. This is exactly what used to happen to our electrons if we went too fast."

Stephen Giblin part of the Quantum Detection Group at NPL said:

"For the last few years, we have worked on optimising the design of our device, but we made a huge leap forward when we fine-tuned the timing sequence. We've basically smashed the record for the largest accurate single-electron current by a factor of 300.

Although moving electrons one at a time is not new, we can do it much faster, and with very high reliability - a billion electrons per second, with an accuracy of less than one error in a million operations.

Using mechanical forces to define the ampere has made a lot of sense for the last 60 or so years, but now that we have the nanotechnology to control single electrons we can move on."

The technology might seem more complicated, but actually a quantum system of measurement is more elegant, because you are basing your system on fundamental constants of nature, rather than things which we know aren't really constant, like the mass of the standard kilogram."

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Natasha Warren

084-568-01869

Copyright © National Physical Laboratory

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links

The full paper, published in Nature Communications, can be found here:

Related News Press

News and information

Atom-thick CCD could capture images: Rice University scientists develop two-dimensional, light-sensitive material December 20th, 2014

Oregon researchers glimpse pathway of sunlight to electricity: Collaboration with Lund University uses modified UO spectroscopy equipment to study 'maze' of connections in photoactive quantum dots December 19th, 2014

Instant-start computers possible with new breakthrough December 19th, 2014

Aculon Hires New Business Development Director December 19th, 2014

Physics

SUNY Poly NanoCollege Faculty Member Selected as American Physical Society Fellow: SUNY Poly Associate Professor of Nanoscience Dr. Vincent LaBella Recognized for Significant Technological Innovations that Enable Interactive Learning December 17th, 2014

Fraud-proof credit card possible because of quantum physics December 16th, 2014

Nanoscale resistors for quantum devices: The electrical characteristics of new thin-film chromium oxide resistors that can be tuned by controlling the oxygen content detailed in the 'Journal of Applied Physics' December 9th, 2014

Unusual Electronic State Found in New Class of Unconventional Superconductors: Finding gives scientists a new group of materials to explore to unlock secrets of some materials' ability to carry current with no energy loss December 8th, 2014

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Atom-thick CCD could capture images: Rice University scientists develop two-dimensional, light-sensitive material December 20th, 2014

Oregon researchers glimpse pathway of sunlight to electricity: Collaboration with Lund University uses modified UO spectroscopy equipment to study 'maze' of connections in photoactive quantum dots December 19th, 2014

Switching to spintronics: Berkeley Lab reports on electric field switching of ferromagnetism at room temp December 17th, 2014

ORNL microscopy pencils patterns in polymers at the nanoscale December 17th, 2014

Discoveries

Atom-thick CCD could capture images: Rice University scientists develop two-dimensional, light-sensitive material December 20th, 2014

Oregon researchers glimpse pathway of sunlight to electricity: Collaboration with Lund University uses modified UO spectroscopy equipment to study 'maze' of connections in photoactive quantum dots December 19th, 2014

Instant-start computers possible with new breakthrough December 19th, 2014

Iranian Scientists Use Nanotechnology to Increase Power, Energy of Supercapacitors December 18th, 2014

Announcements

Atom-thick CCD could capture images: Rice University scientists develop two-dimensional, light-sensitive material December 20th, 2014

Oregon researchers glimpse pathway of sunlight to electricity: Collaboration with Lund University uses modified UO spectroscopy equipment to study 'maze' of connections in photoactive quantum dots December 19th, 2014

Instant-start computers possible with new breakthrough December 19th, 2014

Aculon Hires New Business Development Director December 19th, 2014

Battery Technology/Capacitors/Generators/Piezoelectrics/Thermoelectrics/Energy storage

Iranian Scientists Use Nanotechnology to Increase Power, Energy of Supercapacitors December 18th, 2014

Nexeon Attracts ex-Nokia Product Executive to its Board of Directors December 15th, 2014

Defects are perfect in laser-induced graphene: Rice University lab discovers simple way to make material for energy storage, electronics December 10th, 2014

Lengthening the life of high capacity silicon electrodes in rechargeable lithium batteries: Novel rubber-like coating could lead to longer lasting batteries December 2nd, 2014

Research partnerships

Oregon researchers glimpse pathway of sunlight to electricity: Collaboration with Lund University uses modified UO spectroscopy equipment to study 'maze' of connections in photoactive quantum dots December 19th, 2014

Unraveling the light of fireflies December 17th, 2014

Scientists trace nanoparticles from plants to caterpillars: Rice University study examines how nanoparticles behave in food chain December 16th, 2014

FEI and Oregon Health & Science University Install a Complete Correlative Microscopy Workflow in Newly Built Collaborative Science Facility December 16th, 2014

Quantum nanoscience

Fraud-proof credit card possible because of quantum physics December 16th, 2014

Nanoscale resistors for quantum devices: The electrical characteristics of new thin-film chromium oxide resistors that can be tuned by controlling the oxygen content detailed in the 'Journal of Applied Physics' December 9th, 2014

High photosensitivity 2D-few-layered molybdenum diselenide phototransistors December 8th, 2014

Electron pairs on demand: Controlled emission and spatial splitting of electron pairs demonstrated December 4th, 2014

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More










ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE