Notoriously difficult to pin down, electrons have always been free spirits -- until now that is. According to a paper published by science journal Nature
, folk at Cambridge University much cleverer than we have tamed single electrons, succeeding in coaxing them directly from point-to-point. The technique involves creating a small hole in gallium arsenide, called a "quantum dot," then creating a channel of energy higher than the neighboring electrons to shuttle cargo off to another empty "dot." Why should you care? Well, while you might not see this technology in the next smartphone, it should give quantum computing
a bit of a nudge forward, smoothing the rate of information transfer. If the concept works out, it'll improve the way qubits move around those sub-atomic circuits, where jumping around like a frog in a sock is generally considered bad form.
[Image courtesy of the io9