Studying the flow of electrical charge has produced more than 10 Nobel Prizes in Physics. For example, the 1956 award was for the invention of the transistor which went on to provide the information technology revolution. We measure electrical transport at ultra-low temperatures and high magnetic fields for applications including quantum computing and solar energy, as well as the study of transistors made of plastic or diamond. This reveals regimes where materials are superconducting, metallic, semiconducting or insulating. With electron beam lithography we make nano-scale electrical circuits, and scanning tunnelling microscopy allows us to measure electrical transport with atomic resolution.
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Figure: Quantised Ballistic Conductance exhibited by a Quantum Wire in units of G0=2e2/h. Also seen is a feature at 0.7 G0, which is a spin polarisation produced by the mutual interaction of the electrons. (courtesy Michael Pepper)