Experiment With Turnstiles of Single Electrons Lights Way Towards New Power Standard

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Researchers at Aalto University suggest methodology of transducing frequency to energy.

The world’s mostly used system of measurement, the International System of Units (SI), was redefined in 2019. Since then, models have wanted to be outlined by way of the constants of Nature – that’s, Nature’s guidelines which can be fastened and of no uncertainty, such because the pace of sunshine – and never by way of arbitrary references.

This has meant that new analysis for relating the numerous models of the system to the constants by way of experimental realizations has been known as for.

“The redefinition has caused a need for new realizations,” says Professor Jukka Pekola.

Researchers at Aalto University have now discovered a promising new strategy to hyperlink the watt (the unit of energy) to the constants of Nature. They consider their methodology might present the best way in direction of a brand new energy commonplace, that’s, a brand new strategy to produce an apriori recognized quantity of energy towards which different energy sources and detectors will be in contrast.

The researchers have developed a tool that converts frequency to energy. Frequency is a amount that may be set with low uncertainty, and due to this fact it gives a stable foundation for a brand new commonplace.

Measured Power at Different Device Working Points

Measured energy at completely different system working factors (prime). Its values are even integer multiples of Δf, therefore the plateau construction of this determine. The system (backside) is constituted by a small metallic island, supply and drain leads and a gate electrode. Credit: Aalto University

“Frequency can be defined very, very precisely. If you can make the other quantities depend on frequency in a known way, then you have a very accurate standard,” Pekola says.

Furthermore, the researchers have found that such dependence obeys a easy legislation with accuracy and robustness.

“These characteristics increase the chances of using this method as a standard,” says Marco Marín Suárez, a doctoral candidate.

“Basically, this is a potential new way of realizing a watt, or energy flux, just by setting previously known quantities,” describes Marín Suárez.

In the experiment, power is produced with a single-electron transistor in its turnstile operation. This device was previously proved by Pekola to work as a potential standard for the ampere, the unit of electrical current. It is constituted by a small metallic island, source and drain leads and a gate electrode, and it can address very small powers.

The way from a proposal to an actual accepted new standard is long. Aalto researchers hope that their work will next attract the attention of metrologists who would take it further with more precise measurements.

“This first experiment was not on the level of metrology yet. We could demonstrate that this principle works, though, and we have also shown where the main errors come from. It remains to be seen if this comes to be adopted by the metrology community,” Pekola sums up.

The researchers seek now to push their proposal forward by characterizing how well the frequency to power conversion law adjusts to their method. This will increase the accuracy at which small powers can be calibrated.

Reference: “An electron turnstile for frequency-to-power conversion” by Marco Marín-Suárez, Joonas T. Peltonen, Dmitry S. Golubev and Jukka P. Pekola, 20 January 2022, Nature Nanotechnology.
DOI: 10.1038/s41565-021-01053-5

The experiments were conducted at the OtaNano national research infrastructure. Professor Pekola’s group is part of the QTF Centre of Excellence and InstituteQ, the Finnish quantum institute.

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