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Coulomb blockade and transfer of electrons one by one

H. Pothier 1
1 QUANTRONICS - Quantronics Group
SPEC - UMR3680 - Service de physique de l'état condensé, IRAMIS - Institut Rayonnement Matière de Saclay
Abstract : Zero point fluctuations of the charge on the capacitance of a tunnel junction connected to a bias circuit are in almost all experimental situations larger than the electron charge. As a consequence, the effects of charge granularity are hidden, but in circuits with "islands", which are electrodes connected to the rest of the circuit only through tunnel junctions and capacitors. The island charge being quantized, its fluctuations are blocked. If the island capacitance is sufficiently small, no electron can enter the island because of the increase of electrostatic energy that would occur. We have observed this effect, called "Coulomb blockade", in the "single electron box", where an island is formed between a tunnel junction and a capacitor. A bias voltage source coupled to the island through the capacitor allows to control the number of electrons. We have designed and operated two devices with nanoscale tunnel junctions based on this principle, the "turnstile" and the "pump", through which the current is controlled electron by electron. In our experiments, the precision of the transfer is of the order of one percent. It should be a million time better in versions of these devices with more junctions. One could then use them for a new measurement of the fine structure constant alpha.
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Contributor : Hugues Pothier <>
Submitted on : Monday, November 5, 2007 - 3:12:37 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, December 9, 2020 - 3:13:58 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Monday, April 12, 2010 - 1:21:07 AM


  • HAL Id : tel-00185219, version 1


H. Pothier. Coulomb blockade and transfer of electrons one by one. Condensed Matter [cond-mat]. Université Pierre et Marie Curie - Paris VI, 1991. English. ⟨tel-00185219⟩



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