Article | Published:

Gigahertz quantized charge pumping

Nature Physics volume 3, pages 343347 (2007) | Download Citation

Subjects

Abstract

The high-speed, high-accuracy transport of single electrons in nanoscale devices is predicted to underpin future electronics. A key and topical application is the development of a fundamental standard of electrical current linking the ampere to the elementary charge and frequency. For a practical standard, currents at the nanoampere level are required, corresponding to gigahertz transport frequencies. Recent research has concentrated on transport using Coulomb blockade techniques. However, the tunnelling time of the electrons in such devices limits the operation to a few megahertz. We present a different pumping mechanism of single charges, whereby electrons ‘surf’ as particles on a time-dependent potential instead of tunnelling through the barriers as waves. This potential is created by two phase-shifted sinusoidal signals applied directly to metallic finger gates on an etched GaAs/AlGaAs quantum wire. Pumping accurate to better than 10−4, at a frequency up to 3.4 GHz, is reported with this approach.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1.

    , , , & Redefinition of the kilogram, ampere, kelvin and mole: A proposed approach to implementing CIPM recommendation 1 (ci-2005). Metrologia 43, 227–246 (2006).

  2. 2.

    et al. Frequency-locked turnstile device for single electrons. Phys. Rev. Lett. 64, 2691–2694 (1990).

  3. 3.

    et al. Frequency-determined current with a turnstile device for single electrons. Physica B 165–166, 61 (1990).

  4. 4.

    , , & Quantized current in a quantum-dot turnstile using oscillating tunnel barriers. Phys. Rev. Lett. 67, 1626 (1991).

  5. 5.

    , & Single-electron transfer in metallic nanostructures. Nature 360, 547–553 (1992) .

  6. 6.

    , , , & Single-electron pump based on charging effects. Europhys. Lett. 17, 249–254 (1992).

  7. 7.

    , , & Accuracy of electron counting using a 7-junction electron pump. Appl. Phys. Lett. 69, 1804 (1996).

  8. 8.

    , , & A capacitance standard based on counting electrons. Science 285, 1706 (1999).

  9. 9.

    et al. Fundamental electrical standards and the quantum metrological triangle. Comptes Rendus Phys. 5, 857–879 (2004).

  10. 10.

    et al. High-frequency single-electron transport in a quasi-one-dimensional GaAs channel induced by surface acoustic waves. J. Phys. Condens. Matter 8, L531–L539 (1996).

  11. 11.

    , , , & One-dimensional conduction in the 2d electron gas of a GaAs–AlGaAs heterojunction. Phys. Rev. Lett. 56, 1198–1201 (1986).

  12. 12.

    , , & Current quantization due to single-electron transfer in Si-wire charge coupled devices. Appl. Phys. Lett. 84, 1323 (2004).

  13. 13.

    & Floquet scattering theory of quantum pumps. Phys. Rev. B 66, 205320 (2002).

  14. 14.

    et al. Single electron transport and current quantization in a novel quantum dot structure. Appl. Phys. Lett. 64, 2379 (1994).

  15. 15.

    & Classical dynamics of electrons in quantized-acoustoelectric-current devices. Phys. Rev. B 63, 165418 (2001).

  16. 16.

    , & Nonadiabaticity and single-electron transport driven by surface acoustic waves. Phys. Rev. B 60, R16291–R16294 (1999).

  17. 17.

    , & Screening of the surface-acoustic-wave potential by a metal gate and the quantization of the acoustoelectric current in a narrow channel. Phys. Rev. B 58, 10589–10596 (1998).

  18. 18.

    , & Coulomb interaction of two electrons in the quantum dot formed by the surface acoustic wave in a narrow channel. Phys. Rev. B 60, R13954–R13957 (1999).

  19. 19.

    , , , & Error mechanisms and rates in tunable-barrier single-electron turnstiles and charge coupled devices. J. Appl. Phys. 96, 5254 (2004).

  20. 20.

    & Accurate measurement of currents generated by single electrons transported in a one-dimensional channel. IEEE Proc.-Sci. Meas. Technol. 147, 174–176 (2000).

  21. 21.

    , , , & Study on the limitations of the quantized acoustic current technique at PTB and NPL. IEEE Trans. Instrum. Meas. 52, 594 (2003).

  22. 22.

    , & Quantum computation using electrons trapped by surface acoustic waves. Phys. Rev. B 62, 8410 (2000).

  23. 23.

    & Quantum entanglement for acoustic spintronics. Phys. Rev. A 70, 050302 (2004).

  24. 24.

    , , , & High-frequency acousto-electric single-photon source. Phys. Rev. A 62, 011803 (2000).

  25. 25.

    et al. Surface-acoustic-wave-driven luminescence from a lateral p–n junction. Appl. Phys. Lett. 89, 243505 (2006).

Download references

Acknowledgements

We gratefully acknowledge A. Robinson, S. Amakawa, V. Kashcheyevs and H. W. Schumacher for useful discussions. Acknowledgment also goes to K. Cooper and J. Griffiths for advice and work on the fabrication of the devices. This work was supported by the UK National Measurement System and the EPSRC. L.L. acknowledges support by the National Nature Science Foundation of China under grant No 60436010.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB3 0HE, UK

    • M. D. Blumenthal
    • , M. Pepper
    • , D. Anderson
    • , G. Jones
    •  & D. A. Ritchie
  2. National Physical Laboratory, Hampton Road, Teddington TW11 0LW, UK

    • M. D. Blumenthal
    • , B. Kaestner
    • , L. Li
    • , S. Giblin
    •  & T. J. B. M. Janssen
  3. Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt, 38116 Braunschweig, Germany

    • B. Kaestner
  4. Department of Physics, Sichuan University, Chengdu 610065, China

    • L. Li

Authors

  1. Search for M. D. Blumenthal in:

  2. Search for B. Kaestner in:

  3. Search for L. Li in:

  4. Search for S. Giblin in:

  5. Search for T. J. B. M. Janssen in:

  6. Search for M. Pepper in:

  7. Search for D. Anderson in:

  8. Search for G. Jones in:

  9. Search for D. A. Ritchie in:

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to M. D. Blumenthal.

About this article

Publication history

Received

Accepted

Published

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nphys582

Further reading