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Discovering the Quantum Diode

MEMS Assistant Professor Juan Juan José Mendoza Arenas has conceived a quantum diode with the potential to outperform diodes currently found on the market

Circuits are just about everywhere, from the wiring in our homes to the ignition that starts our cars. 

There’s a vast amount of circuits on the market, some more complex than others. Researchers are working to create circuits with better performance than those currently available – all the way down to the nanoscale. Diodes, a two-terminal circuit element that can transfer electrical currents in one direction but not in the other, are in most types of circuits and may be key in taking them to the quantum level. 

“One way to characterize the performance of a diode is the ratio of the current in one direction divided by the current in the other direction,” explained Juan José Mendoza Arenas, assistant professor of quantum computing in the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering. “So, since a diode allows current to flow in one direction, a good diode should have this ratio of two currents reaching a maximum output, or as well call it: the rectification coefficient.” 

Mendoza Arenas and Professor Stephen Clark from the University of Bristol were able to put forward a theoretical quantum diode whose behavior is governed by quantum mechanics. 

Their quantum diode not only has a high rectification coefficient, but a higher one compared to that of diodes that already exist. The coefficient can be easily increased even more if the system is made larger. 

“The quantum diodes we’re proposing can be implemented in many different laboratories and technologies,” Mendoza Arenas said. “It’s not just a theoretical idea. Quantum-scale technologies are well on their way.”

The paper, “Giant Rectification in Strongly Interacting Driven Tilted Systems,” was published in PRX QUANTUM, a Physical Review Journal.