Researchers from France, South Korea, and Japan have created a graphene-based “beam splitter” for electronic currents. The tunable device’s operation is directly comparable to that of an optical interferometer. The team believes that the technology could enable electron interferometry to be used in nanotechnology and quantum computing.
An optical interferometer splits a beam of light in two, sending each beam along a different path before recombining the beams at a detector. The measured interference of the beams at the detector can be used to detect tiny differences in the lengths of the two paths. Recently, physicists have become interested in doing a similar thing with currents of electrons in solid-state devices, taking advantage of the fact that electrons behave similarly to waves in the quantum world.