- Great Painters
- Accounting
- Fundamentals of Law
- Marketing
- Shorthand
- Concept Cars
- Videogames
- The World of Sports

- Blogs
- Free Software
- Google
- My Computer

- PHP Language and Applications
- Wikipedia
- Windows Vista

- Education
- Masterpieces of English Literature
- American English

- English Dictionaries
- The English Language

- Medical Emergencies
- The Theory of Memory
- The Beatles
- Dances
- Microphones
- Musical Notation
- Music Instruments
- Batteries
- Nanotechnology
- Cosmetics
- Diets
- Vegetarianism and Veganism
- Christmas Traditions
- Animals

- Fruits And Vegetables


  1. Atomic force microscope
  2. Atomic nanoscope
  3. Atom probe
  4. Ballistic conduction
  5. Bingel reaction
  6. Biomimetic
  7. Bio-nano generator
  8. Bionanotechnology
  9. Break junction
  10. Brownian motor
  11. Bulk micromachining
  12. Cantilever
  13. Carbon nanotube
  14. Carbyne
  15. CeNTech
  16. Chemical Compound Microarray
  17. Cluster
  18. Colloid
  19. Comb drive
  20. Computronium
  21. Coulomb blockade
  22. Diamondoids
  23. Dielectrophoresis
  24. Dip Pen Nanolithography
  25. DNA machine
  26. Ecophagy
  27. Electrochemical scanning tunneling microscope
  28. Electron beam lithography
  29. Electrospinning
  30. Engines of Creation
  31. Exponential assembly
  32. Femtotechnology
  33. Fermi point
  34. Fluctuation dissipation theorem
  35. Fluorescence interference contrast microscopy
  36. Fullerene
  37. Fungimol
  38. Gas cluster ion beam
  39. Grey goo
  40. Hacking Matter
  41. History of nanotechnology
  42. Hydrogen microsensor
  43. Inorganic nanotube
  44. Ion-beam sculpting
  45. Kelvin probe force microscope
  46. Lab-on-a-chip
  47. Langmuir-Blodgett film
  48. LifeChips
  49. List of nanoengineering topics
  50. List of nanotechnology applications
  51. List of nanotechnology topics
  52. Lotus effect
  53. Magnetic force microscope
  54. Magnetic resonance force microscopy
  55. Mechanochemistry
  56. Mechanosynthesis
  57. MEMS thermal actuator
  58. Mesotechnology
  59. Micro Contact Printing
  60. Microelectromechanical systems
  61. Microfluidics
  62. Micromachinery
  63. Molecular assembler
  64. Molecular engineering
  65. Molecular logic gate
  66. Molecular manufacturing
  67. Molecular motors
  68. Molecular recognition
  69. Molecule
  70. Nano-abacus
  71. Nanoart
  72. Nanobiotechnology
  73. Nanocar
  74. Nanochemistry
  75. Nanocomputer
  76. Nanocrystal
  77. Nanocrystalline silicon
  78. Nanocrystal solar cell
  79. Nanoelectrochemistry
  80. Nanoelectrode
  81. Nanoelectromechanical systems
  82. Nanoelectronics
  83. Nano-emissive display
  84. Nanoengineering
  85. Nanoethics
  86. Nanofactory
  87. Nanoimprint lithography
  88. Nanoionics
  89. Nanolithography
  90. Nanomanufacturing
  91. Nanomaterial based catalyst
  92. Nanomedicine
  93. Nanomorph
  94. Nanomotor
  95. Nano-optics
  96. Nanoparticle
  97. Nanoparticle tracking analysis
  98. Nanophotonics
  99. Nanopore
  100. Nanoprobe
  101. Nanoring
  102. Nanorobot
  103. Nanorod
  104. Nanoscale
  105. Nano-Science Center
  106. Nanosensor
  107. Nanoshell
  108. Nanosight
  109. Nanosocialism
  110. Nanostructure
  111. Nanotechnology
  112. Nanotechnology education
  113. Nanotechnology in fiction
  114. Nanotoxicity
  115. Nanotube
  116. Nanovid microscopy
  117. Nanowire
  118. National Nanotechnology Initiative
  119. Neowater
  120. Niemeyer-Dolan technique
  121. Ormosil
  122. Photolithography
  123. Picotechnology
  124. Programmable matter
  125. Quantum dot
  126. Quantum heterostructure
  127. Quantum point contact
  128. Quantum solvent
  129. Quantum well
  130. Quantum wire
  131. Richard Feynman
  132. Royal Society's nanotech report
  133. Scanning gate microscopy
  134. Scanning probe lithography
  135. Scanning probe microscopy
  136. Scanning tunneling microscope
  137. Scanning voltage microscopy
  138. Self-assembled monolayer
  139. Self-assembly
  140. Self reconfigurable
  141. Self-Reconfiguring Modular Robotics
  142. Self-replication
  143. Smart dust
  144. Smart material
  145. Soft lithography
  146. Spent nuclear fuel
  147. Spin polarized scanning tunneling microscopy
  148. Stone Wales defect
  149. Supramolecular assembly
  150. Supramolecular chemistry
  151. Supramolecular electronics
  152. Surface micromachining
  153. Surface plasmon resonance
  154. Synthetic molecular motors
  155. Synthetic setae
  156. Tapping AFM
  157. There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom
  158. Transfersome
  159. Utility fog


This article is from:

All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License: 

Coulomb blockade

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


In physics, a Coulomb blockade, named after Charles-Augustin de Coulomb, is the increased resistance at small bias voltages of an electronic device comprising at least one low-capacitance tunnel junction.

A tunnel junction is, in its simplest form, a thin insulating barrier between two conducting electrodes. If the electrodes are superconducting, Cooper pairs with a charge of two elementary charges carry the current. In the case that the electrodes are normalconducting, i.e. neither superconducting nor semiconducting, electrons with a charge of one elementary charge carry the current. The following reasoning is for the case of tunnel junctions with an insulating barrier between two normalconducting electrodes (NIN junctions).

Schematic representation of an electron tunnelling through a barrier
Schematic representation of an electron tunnelling through a barrier

According to the laws of classical electrodynamics, no current can flow through an insulating barrier. According to the laws of quantum mechanics, however, there is a nonvanishing (larger than zero) probability for an electron on one side of the barrier to reach the other side. When a bias voltage is applied, this means that there will be a current flow. In first-order approximation, that is, neglecting additional effects, the tunnelling current will be proportional to the bias voltage. In electrical terms, the tunnel junction behaves as a resistor with a constant resistance, also known as an ohmic resistor. The resistance depends exponentially on the barrier thickness. Typical barrier thicknesses are on the order of one to several nanometers.

An arrangement of two conductors with an insulating layer in between not only has a resistance, but also a finite capacitance. The insulator is also called dielectric in this context, the tunnel junction behaves as a capacitor.

Due to the discreteness of electrical charge, current flow through a tunnel junction is a series of events in which exactly one electron passes (tunnels) through the tunnel barrier (we neglect events in which two electrons tunnel simultaneously). The tunnel junction capacitor is charged with one elementary charge by the tunnelling electron, causing a voltage buildup U = e / C, where e is the elementary charge of 1.6×10-19 coulomb and C the capacitance of the junction. If the capacitance is very small, the voltage buildup can be large enough to prevent another electron from tunnelling. The electrical current is then suppressed at low bias voltages and the resistance of the device is no longer constant. The increase of the differential resistance around zero bias is called the Coulomb blockade.

In order for the Coulomb blockade to be observable, the temperature has to be low enough so that the characteristic charging energy (the energy that is required to charge the junction with one elementary charge) is larger than the thermal energy of the charge carriers. For capacitances below 1 femtofarad (10-15 farad), this implies that the temperature has to be below about 1 kelvin. This temperature range is routinely reached for example by dilution refrigerators.

Energylevels of source, island and drain (from left to right) in a single electron transistor for both the blocking state (upper part) and the transmitting state (lower part).
Energylevels of source, island and drain (from left to right) in a single electron transistor for both the blocking state (upper part) and the transmitting state (lower part).
Single electron transistor with niobium leads and aluminium island
Single electron transistor with niobium leads and aluminium island

To make a tunnel junction in plate condenser geometry with a capacitance 1 femtofarad, using an oxide layer of electric permeability 10 and thickness one nanometer, one has to create electrodes with dimensions of approximately 100 by 100 nanometers. This range of dimensions is routinely reached for example by electron beam lithography and appropriate pattern transfer technologies, like the Niemeyer-Dolan technique, also known as shadow evaporation technology.

Another problem for the observation of the Coulomb blockade is the relatively large capacitance of the leads that connect the tunnel junction to the measurement electronics.

Single electron transistor

The simplest device in which the effect of Coulomb blockade can be observed is the so-called single electron transistor. It consists of two tunnel junctions sharing one common electrode with a low self-capacitance, known as the island. The electrical potential of the island can be tuned by a third electrode (the gate), capacitively coupled to the island.

In the blocking state no accessible energy levels are within tunneling range of the electron (red) on the source contact. All energy levels on the island electrode with lower energies are occupied.

When a positive voltage is applied to the gate electrode the energy levels of the island electrode are lowered. The electron (green 1.) can tunnel onto the island (2.), occupying a previously vacant energy level. From there it can tunnel onto the drain electrode (3.) where it inelastically scatters and reaches the drain electrode Fermi level (4.).

The energy levels of the island electrode are evenly spaced with a separation of ΔE. ΔE is the energy needed to each subsequent electron to the island, which acts as a self-capacitance C. The lower C the bigger ΔE gets. It is crucial for ΔE to be larger than the energy of thermal fluctuations kBT, otherwise an electron from the source electrode can always be thermally excited onto an unoccupied level of the island electrode, and no blocking can be observed.

Coulomb Blockade Thermometer

Coulomb Blockade Thermometer is a primary thermometer based on electric conductance characteristics of tunnel junction arrays. Given the physical constants the parameter V½=5.439NkBT/e, the full width at half minimum of the measured differential conductance dip over a array of N junctions provides the absolute temperature.


  • T. Henning, Charging effects in niobium nanostructures, PhD thesis, Mikroelektronik och Nanovetenskap, Chalmers Tekniska Högskola AB och Göteborgs Universitet, Göteborg/Sweden, 1999. Full text available online [1] as e-print cond-mat/9901308.
  • D.V. Averin and K.K Likharev Mesoscopic Phenomena in Solids, edited by B.L. Altshuler, P.A. Lee, and R.A. Webb (Elsevier, Amsterdam, 1991)
  • J. P. Pekola, K. P. Hirvi, J. P. Kauppinen, and M. A. Paalanen, Thermometry by Arrays of Tunnel Junctions, Phys. Rev. Lett. 73, 2903 (1994).


External links

  • NACARDIO - European Commission FP6 Programme
Retrieved from ""