back to article Boffins play ping-pong with single electron

Researchers at Cambridge University have managed to bat an electron back and forth along a wire in a high-tech game of ping-pong that could help out with quantum computing. The findings, published in Nature, showed the boffins were able to exercise a high level of control over the path of an electron in an electronic circuit. …

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Silver badge

Now THAT is cool ...

And Zuckerberg is a (paper-only) billionare?

The mind absolutely boggles ... C'mon, people, pay attention to what's important ...

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Silver badge

Nice boffinry

It would seem fitting that a game of ping-pong heralds a new type of computer.

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Next; Breakout or...

...Galaxians by electron. This will spawn a whole new industry and way of life for a generation.

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Happy

Pong on Quantum computers

The first game on a Quantum computer is Pong. Brilliant!

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Bronze badge

So presumably powerline ethernet could get alot easier/faster/better?

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Anonymous Coward

Burst of sound?

Apparently quite a few people shout at their computer, but I'm not sure that this will make them work any better.

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Boffin

it's all quantum, innit

So, what comes first - the ping or the pong, the wiff or the waff?

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Is this likely to be useful for high-speed anything?

I could have sworn that one of the things we learned in physics was that electric current barely "flows" per se, that the individual electrons in a wire move ponderously slowly. Or should that be filed in the same round filing cabinet as nonsense about plugholes and coriolis effects?

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Sounds like storage to me...

Less like transmission of data, more like storage of data... though I could be misreading the implications.

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alt

You're right that the speed that electrons move at in a normal wire is pretty slow - for a DC current they move at what's called the drift velocity, which for most metals is something like a few mm per hour if I remember correctly. Here the electrons are moving at about the speed of sound (2.7 km/s in gallium arsenide, give or take)

The thing is, these single-electron devices operate in a totally different regime to normal electrical devices. The idea is to use the quantum properties of a few electrons (probably their spin, though that's not looked at in this experiment) to form the building blocks of a quantum computer. And the sort of technique demonstrated here could be useful in moving those building blocks around - think, for example, of transferring info between a CPU and RAM in a normal computer.

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alt

link to paper

A freely-available version of the paper is at http://arxiv.org/abs/1107.3886 for anyone interested

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Mushroom

Hey!

"A burst of sound carries the electron from one dot to the next "

There. Just THERE, my mind boggled!!!

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alt

It's not the burst of sound itself which carries the electron: these devices work because gallium arsenide is piezoelectric (ie if you deform it slightly, it produces an electric field). The deformation of the crystal due to the sound wave thus leads to a travelling electrical wave which travels along at approximately the speed of sound, and that's what moves the electron backwards and forwards.

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Billiards anyone

It would seem to me that this would be an absolutely great path redirection method.

Hit the electron on one end of the table, bounce it off the side correctly, and it lands at the end of the path it should continue on. Next stop, turn the rectangle into a tube, after that an electron light emitting surface on the end of a fiber interface.

Besides, conceptually, I've never met anyone who likes Billiards that didn't mind losing 90% of the time and kept trying.

Bound to keep a scientist in bucks for a lifetime.

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