Kalte Elektronen (engl.)

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Erstmals konnten ohne externe Kühleinrichtung Elektronen auf -228 Grad Celsius gebracht werden. Damit ließen sich elektronische Geräte in Zukunft mit zehnmal weniger Energie betreiben als bisher

A team of researchers has discovered a way to cool electrons to -228 °C without external means and at room temperature, an advancement that could enable electronic devices to function with very little energy.

The process involves passing electrons through a quantum well to cool them and keep them from heating.

The researchers are the first to effectively cool electrons at room temperature. Researchers have done electron cooling before, but only when the entire device is immersed into an extremely cold cooling bath.

Obtaining cold electrons at room temperature has enormous technical benefits. For example, the requirement of using liquid helium or liquid nitrogen for cooling electrons in various electron systems can be lifted.

Electrons are thermally excited even at room temperature, which is a natural phenomenon. If that electron excitation could be suppressed, then the temperature of those electrons could be effectively lowered without external cooling, Koh said.

The team used a nanoscale structure – which consists of a sequential array of a source electrode, a quantum well, a tunneling barrier, a quantum dot, another tunneling barrier, and a drain electrode – to suppress electron excitation and to make electrons cold.

Cold electrons promise a new type of transistor that can operate at extremely low-energy consumption. Implementing the findings to fabricating energy-efficient transistors is currently under way. When implemented in transistors, these research findings could potentially reduce energy consumption of electronic devices by more than 10 times compared to the present technology. Personal electronic devices such as smart phones, iPads, etc., can last much longer before recharging.

In addition to potential commercial applications, there are many military uses for the technology. Batteries weigh a lot, and less power consumption means reducing the battery weight of electronic equipment that soldiers are carrying, which will enhance their combat capability. Other potential military applications include electronics for remote sensors, unmanned aerial vehicles and high-capacity computing in remote operations.

Future research could include identifying key elements that will allow electrons to be cooled even further. The most important challenge of this future research is to keep the electron from gaining energy as it travels across device components. This would require research into how energy-gaining pathways could be effectively blocked.


Chip that enables electron cooling

A chip, which contains nanoscale structures that enable electron cooling at room temperature, is pictured.