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Quantum Devices for a New Electrical Current Standard

A macroscopic electric current is the result of the transfer of many individual charges in a circuit. However, the discrete nature of the electron charge does not manifest itself unless one uses nano-scale quantum devices such as single-electron transistors and single-electron pumps, where charges can be manipulated one at a time.

This cutting-edge technology allows one to control single electrons while they hop through specially designed conductive islands. This has made it possible to realize a wide range of fascinating experiments which have probed fundamental quantum physics principles.

Our research group at UNSW is recognised as a world leader in the control and detection of single electrons in silicon. We have an excellent track record in the fabrication and characterisation of MOSFET-based single-electron devices, with an impressive number of publications in the most prestigious international scientific journals.

This thesis project will focus on the design and development of single-electron pump devices that can generate output current to an unprecedented accuracy of few parts per billion. At present, the most precise measurements of current are much less accurate than the best measurements of other fundamental quantities, such as time or length.

The student will participate in the ambitious goal of implementing a new ultra-high-precision international current standard that will eventually lead to a re-definition of the Ampere. The project is a significant collaborative effort among scientists at UNSW, Aalto University (Helsinki), and MIKES, the National Institute for Standards and Metrology of Finland.

The Scholar will be integrated within the research group of Scientia Professor Andrew Dzurak at UNSW and will closely interact with scientists from Aalto University and MIKES. A team of expert technical staff will train the scholar in the use of the advanced experimental equipment available in the group.

High-speed computing facilities and advanced semiconductor device modelling packages will be made available. The student will also have their own PC work-station available within the Centre research offices. The research group deals with all the aspects of the construction of nano-scale electronic devices: design, simulation, fabrication, fast electrical measurement at ultra-low temperatures, and data analysis.

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