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

Iranian Experts Clean Uranium-Contaminated Water by Nano-Particles November 23rd, 2014

Novel Method Found for Connection of Metallic Alloys to Polymers November 23rd, 2014

New research project supports internationalisation in nano-research: Launch of new “Baltic Sea Network” November 22nd, 2014

3rd Iran-Proposed Nano Standard Approved by International Standard Organization November 22nd, 2014

Physics

Researchers discern the shapes of high-order Brownian motions November 17th, 2014

Heat Transfer Sets the Noise Floor for Ultrasensitive Electronics November 11th, 2014

Noise in a microwave amplifier is limited by quantum particles of heat November 10th, 2014

Live Images from the Nano-cosmos: Researchers watch layers of football molecules grow November 5th, 2014

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

New research project supports internationalisation in nano-research: Launch of new “Baltic Sea Network” November 22nd, 2014

3rd Iran-Proposed Nano Standard Approved by International Standard Organization November 22nd, 2014

NMTI announces breakthrough solutions for HAMR nanoantenna for next-generation ultra-high density magnetic storage November 21st, 2014

Quantum mechanical calculations reveal the hidden states of enzyme active sites November 20th, 2014

Discoveries

Iranian Experts Clean Uranium-Contaminated Water by Nano-Particles November 23rd, 2014

Novel Method Found for Connection of Metallic Alloys to Polymers November 23rd, 2014

NMTI announces breakthrough solutions for HAMR nanoantenna for next-generation ultra-high density magnetic storage November 21st, 2014

Nano Sorbents Able to Remove Pollutions Caused by Oil Derivatives November 20th, 2014

Announcements

Iranian Experts Clean Uranium-Contaminated Water by Nano-Particles November 23rd, 2014

Novel Method Found for Connection of Metallic Alloys to Polymers November 23rd, 2014

New research project supports internationalisation in nano-research: Launch of new “Baltic Sea Network” November 22nd, 2014

3rd Iran-Proposed Nano Standard Approved by International Standard Organization November 22nd, 2014

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

OCSiAl Builds Worldwide Partnership Network November 12th, 2014

Drexel Engineers Improve Strength, Flexibility of Atom-Thick Films November 11th, 2014

A billion holes can make a battery November 10th, 2014

Super stable garnet ceramics may be ideal for high-energy lithium batteries October 21st, 2014

Research partnerships

Novel Method Found for Connection of Metallic Alloys to Polymers November 23rd, 2014

New research project supports internationalisation in nano-research: Launch of new “Baltic Sea Network” November 22nd, 2014

Quantum mechanical calculations reveal the hidden states of enzyme active sites November 20th, 2014

UO-industry collaboration points to improved nanomaterials: University of Oregon microscope puts spotlight on the surface structure of quantum dots for designing new solar devices November 20th, 2014

Quantum nanoscience

Quantum mechanical calculations reveal the hidden states of enzyme active sites November 20th, 2014

Pseudospin-driven spin relaxation mechanism in graphene November 11th, 2014

Heat Transfer Sets the Noise Floor for Ultrasensitive Electronics November 11th, 2014

On-demand conductivity for graphene nanoribbons: Physicists from Uzbekistan and Germany have devised a theoretical model to tune the conductivity of graphene zigzag nanoribbons using ultra-short pulses November 10th, 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