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Experiments confirm theory of “superballistic” electron flow

Behaving like particles in a viscous fluid can help bunches of electrons squeeze through a tight space.

Helen Knight | MIT News correspondent
August 23, 2017

When many people try to squeeze through a passageway at the same time, it creates a bottleneck that slows everyone down. It turns out the reverse is true for electrons, which can move through small openings more quickly when travelling in large groups than when flying solo.

The theory of so-called superballistic flow predicts that electrons can pass more easily through constrictions by interacting with one another, and thereby “cooperating,” than they can individually. The theory was proposed in a paper earlier this year by a team led by MIT professor of physics Leonid Levitov.

Now, in a paper published this week in the journal Nature Physics, a team at the University of Manchester in the U.K., working alongside Levitov and MIT undergraduate Haoyu Guo, have confirmed the theory in an experiment employing devices built from an atomically thin layer of graphene.
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