Sometimes the behavior of electrons in nanostructures can be modelled using classical laws of motion, while at other times more computationally challenging quantum methods are necessary to obtain useful results. Christopher W. Ince of the Nanotechnology Research Foundation writes with news of a new method to distinguish classical from quantum behavior in electrons:
Researchers from Japan’s RIKEN Advanced Science Institute have recently developed a group of mathematical equations designed to separate classical behavior from quantum mechanical behavior in the transport of electrons in nanostructures. These equations will help researchers by setting up a threshold parameter in measurements of electrical current in quantum dots. According to RIKEN researcher Neill Lambert, “In microscopic systems, it is very difficult to perform ideal measurements without disturbing the system”. In order to compensate, these set of equations are formulated such that if a certain parameter exceeds a critical threshold built into the equation, it will be indicative of quantum behavior. This set of equations represents an important step towards gaining an understanding of electrical conductivity and electron transport in nanostructures.