Controlling Quantum Waves with a Traffic Light, Figuratively of Course
The quantum technology advancement could help lead to improvements in computing, data processing
Points to note…
+ A University at Buffalo-led research team has developed a “traffic light” that can bring quantum waves to a halt. The advancement could be key to harnessing the potential of the atomic world, eventually leading to breakthroughs in computing, medicine, cryptography, materials science and other applications.
+ “It’s an area of research of immense importance,” says UB electrical engineer Jon Bird, Ph.D., co-lead author of a study published recently in the journal Physical Review Letters that describes the aforementioned work.
“This is what we call a quantum point contact. You can think of it as a traffic light. Only instead of stopping automobiles at an intersection, we’ve demonstrated the ability to control the transmission of electron waves in a confined system by externally shaking the atoms in that system,” says Han.
+ In the study, the team “used the very atoms that make up the crystal structure of the semiconductor materials that we study to either impede the passage of electrons, or to allow them to pass freely, essentially making a ‘traffic light’ for these quantum particles. We do this by ‘shaking’ these atoms controllably, through the application of small electrical signals to our devices,” says Bird.
+ In the study, the UB researchers achieved this by applying a small amount of voltage to the conductor, thereby allowing them to shake its atoms in a controllable fashion. As the atoms were made to shake more strongly, they provided a greater source of resistance to the quantum waves, which blocked the waves from passing through the conductor.
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