EPSRC DTP PhD studentship: Room temperature quantum electronics

University of Exeter - College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences

Main supervisor: Prof Saverio Russo (University of Exeter)
Co-supervisor:  Prof Monica Felicia Craciun (University of Exeter)

Project Description:

The birth of quantum mechanics in physics was marked by the revolutionary concept that electrically charged subatomic quantum particles such as electrons also exhibit properties intrinsic to waves. The dual particle-wave nature was confirmed experimentally by the observation of the apparent bending of particles travelling in free space around small obstacles. This diffraction of waves is a phenomenon commonly experienced in daily life for example when the sea waves appear to warp around obstacles or jetties, or when the diffraction of light off the fibres of deli meat results in iridescent colouration of its surface.

Presently the ability to bend, guide, focus and more generally to manipulate waves such as light has revolutionized many fields. For example, optical circuits where photons deliver information by racing along fibre-optic cables with unparalleled speed have provided a disruptive technology for the telecommunications industry and played a major role in the advent of the Information Age. The development of optical circuits has also marked a paradigm shift in fundamental science enabling the fast and secure exchange of information and communication as shown by the first quantum-secure bank transfer demonstrated in 2004 in Vienna (Austria).

Despite the cutting-edge advances on optical circuits and on the fundamental understanding of quantum mechanics, no electrical analogues to the diffraction or interference of waves have ever been demonstrated at room temperature in a table top experiment. In contrast, nowadays electronic circuits are fully governed by the laws of classical physics known to give slow processing speed. Therefore, the observation of room temperature quantum mechanical processes such as quantum interference and diffraction of the electron waves would open a new research field finally leading to more efficient and secure quantum-protected manipulation and exchange of information.

The demonstration of room temperature (RT) quantum electrical analogues of optical elements and circuits is the breakthrough sought by this project. We will pioneer the experimental study of RT quantum electronics exploiting the unique ability of the applicants’ research teams to create graphene devices in which for the very first time the wave-nature of electrons is expected to play a dominant role at RT.

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South West England