The 2018 Helmholtz prize for “Precision Measurements in Applied Measurement Technology” has been awarded to e-SI-Amp partners PTB for work on improvements in the accurate measurement and generation of small currents.

“Metrology on the mind?”: Prizes are awarded for outstanding scientific and technological research

Prizes are awarded by the Helmholtz Foundation (Germany) for outstanding scientific and technological research in the field of “Precision Measurement in Physics, Chemistry and Medicine” in the categories “Fundamentals” and “Applications”.  Scientists Dietmar Drung, Martin Götz, Eckart Pesel and Hansjörg Scherer were identified for their contribution to the field of small current measurement through the development of the novel current amplifier, the Ultrastable Low-noise Current Amplifier (‘ULCA’).

The ULCA uses a circuit topology engineered for extremely high measurement stability (for details see this paper). This results in more accurate measurements and/or reduced complexity/measurement time, while still being small and portable. This leads to improved current calibration and measurement capabilities which have an impact upon a range of industries such as semiconductor testing, environmental metrology, DNA sequencing and quantum communication.

The ULCA presently plays a key role in research on single-electron circuits as a quantum realization of the ampere, the motivation of the e-SI-Amp project. The stability and accuracy of the ULCA makes it highly suited for research on the validation of electron pump devices. As the device is stable and portable, transport of units between partners is possible, enabling international comparisons of measurement systems.

The ULCA can be used to validate the current from single electron sources while they are under development as primary quantum standards.

The ULCA is commercially available from Magnicon, under licence from PTB. Several variants, tailored for specific applications, are presently under test within the e-Si-Amp project.

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