Towards phase-coherent caloritronics in superconducting circuits (English)

In: Nature nanotechnology   ;  12 ,  10  ;  2017
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The emerging field of phase-coherent caloritronics (from the Latin word calor, heat) is based on the possibility of controlling heat currents by using the phase difference of the superconducting order parameter. The goal is to design and implement thermal devices that can control energy transfer with a degree of accuracy approaching that reached for charge transport by contemporary electronic components. This can be done by making use of the macroscopic quantum coherence intrinsic to superconducting condensates, which manifests itself through the Josephson effect and the proximity effect. Here, we review recent experimental results obtained in the realization of heat interferometers and thermal rectifiers, and discuss a few proposals for exotic nonlinear phase-coherent caloritronic devices, such as thermal transistors, solid-state memories, phase-coherent heat splitters, microwave refrigerators, thermal engines and heat valves. Besides being attractive from the fundamental physics point of view, these systems are expected to have a vast impact on many cryogenic microcircuits requiring energy management, and possibly lay the first stone for the foundation of electronic thermal logic.

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