Creating Electron Lattices with Sound Waves

October 27, 2017

Electrons and quasiparticles in solids could be trapped and moved using surface acoustic waves.
[image: Bernadette Brunner]

Electrons may be hard to hold in place, but a new method could allow researchers to manipulate electron positions in a solid using acoustic waves. These waves could generate a periodic electric potential that could trap a lattice of electrons in much the same way that a periodic optical field can trap a lattice of atoms. The technique could be applied to both electrons and quasiparticles like excitons (electron-hole pairs), opening up a new route to studying the interactions of these particles with each other and with their environment.

The method outlined by Martin Schuetz, Prof. Mikhail Lukin, and colleagues utilizes sound waves that ripple along the surface of elastic materials. If the material is also piezoelectric, these so-called surface acoustic waves (SAWs) induce an electric potential with the same spatial and temporal periodicity as the SAWs...

Read more in: Katherine Wright, "Creating Electron Lattices with Sound Waves," Physics Oct 24, 2017. https://physics.aps.org/synopsis-for/10.1103/PhysRevX.7.041019.

M.J.A. Schuetz, J. Knörzer, G. Giedke, L.M.K. Vandersypen, M.D. Lukin, and J.I. Cirac, "Acoustic Traps and Lattices for Electrons in Semiconductors," Physical Review X 7, 041019 (2017) DOI: https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevX.7.041019.