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Science

Yale Physicists Measure 'Persistent Current' 68

eldavojohn writes "Modern processors rely on wires mere nanometers wide, and now Yale physicists have successfully measured a theoretical 'persistent current' that flows through them when they are formed into rings. The researchers predict this will help us understand how electrons behave in metals — more specifically, the quantum mechanical effect that influences how these electrons move through the metals. Hopefully, this work will shed new light on what dangers (or uses) quantum effects could have on classical processors as the inner workings shrink in size. The breakthrough involved rethinking how to measure this theoretical effect, as they previously relied on superconducting quantum interference devices to measure the magnetic field such a current would create — complicated devices that gave incorrect and inconsistent measurements. Instead, they turned to nothing but mechanical devices, known as cantilevers ('little floppy diving boards with the nanometer rings sitting on top'), that yielded measurements with a full order of magnitude more precision."

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