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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/J017329/1
Title: Superconducting NbSi Quantum Phase-Slip Nanowire Devices for Electronics
Principal Investigator: Fenton, Dr JC
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Department: London Centre for Nanotechnology
Organisation: UCL
Scheme: EPSRC Fellowship
Starts: 01 October 2012 Ends: 30 September 2018 Value (£): 1,047,804
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Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
29 May 2012 EPSRC Physical Sciences Fellowships Interview Panel 29th May Announced
18 Apr 2012 EPSRC Physical Sciences Physics - April Deferred
Summary on Grant Application Form
We will develop superconducting devices to enable applications in high-technology electronics, based on a quantum-mechanical phenomenon known as quantum phase-slip (QPS). The proposal as a whole is concerned with developing this so-far-little-developed manifestation of quantum mechanics within superconducting nanowires. The developments will be both in our fundamental understanding of the physics, through experimental tests of recently proposed theories, and in moving towards concrete applications by development of circuit elements which will be useful in future nanoscale applications. One specific area of potential for future application is as elements for qubit technologies and thus the research fits into the broader research effort of enabling technologies for quantum computing.

The development of coherent QPS devices would open up avenues for developing a gamut of new devices of potential technological importance, as well as for fundamental research. Coherent QPS devices are likely to find applications in both fundamental science and metrology, and the impact could be as marked as the superconducting quantum interference device (or SQUID), which is dual to one of the coherent QPS devices we will develop. The devices are also likely to be of relevance to quantum computing applications, both as qubits in the own right and also as useful circuit elements in future realisations using previously developed solid-state qubits. There is also potential for a QPS-based quantum current standard to be developed and this would have substantial impact on the metrology community.

A quantum phase-slip occurs when quantum fluctuations in the superconducting order parameter are sufficiently strong that the phase of the order parameter slips. The key element of each device will be a superconducting nanowire. If such a nanowire has a cross-section sufficiently small, quantum fluctuations may have significant effects and QPS events may occur. In that case, the fundamental quantum-mechanical Heisenberg uncertainty relation between the charge and superconducting phase may noticeably change the current flow through the device and even, counterintuitively, completely block charge transport along the wire, even though it is superconducting. This is a result of the quantum-mechanical nature of the physics.

In this research we will develop devices based on the quantum phase-slip, using the state-of-the-art nanofabrication facilities in the London Centre for Nanotechnology. We will experimentally realise a range of coherent QPS devices - including the flux-biased and current-biased QPS transistors and the QPS box - for the first time, with a view to future applications in devices, and we will build on and refine previous experimental work with the aim of realising a prototype QPS-based current standard.
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