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COMANCHE Report Summary

Project ID: 615187
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Italy

Mid-Term Report Summary - COMANCHE (Coherent manipulation and control of heat in solid-state nanostructures: the era of coherent caloritronics)

The COMANCHE project takes advantage of some new degrees of freedom and control offered by nanostructures joining superconductors, normal metals and/or semiconductor 2DEGs at low temperature to tackle fundamental questions on quantum coherence and, more in general, correlation in an engineered solid-state environment in order to set the experimental ground for the investigation and implementation of a new branch of science, i.e., the coherent caloritronics. In particular, the project focuses on heat (or energy) transfer and dynamics, and several related properties. We aim to create artificial structures where heat flow can be manipulated, controlled and directed over micron-scale distances through the use of the quantum phase. The project is exploring original and totally novel approaches for the realization of thermal nanodevices such as heat transistors, heat rectifiers and splitters, and exotic quantum circuits which will make use of the above building-block structures in order to implement more specific functionalities, e.g., Josephson transistors or interferometers for magnetic-field detection with enhanced performance.

The physical picture at the basis of COMANCHE is based on the ability to exploit suitable physical mechanisms which take advantage of the quantum phase to control heat transfer between reservoirs (i.e., bodies) kept at different temperatures. This ambitious goal can be reached with suitable phase-coherent quantum effects so far unexplored or almost unknown. The exploitation of the quantum phase to master heat flow represent the core of COMANCHE whose fundamental target is therefore to conceive and implement functionalized nanodevices for phase-dependent control of heat transfer.

Toward this end COMANCHE is tackling this ambitious and challenging objective by addressing three separate approaches each of them forming a workpackage. Specifically, the first approach concerns phase-tuning of the heat flux transported by electrons in Josephson junctions-based nanocircuits. This goal can be achieved by exploiting the phase-dependent component of the heat current flowing through temperature-biased Josephson weak-links. The second approach consists of heat control and manipulation through phase-tuning of the electronic spectrum of a proximity metal. This objective can be reached thanks to metallic layers proximized by the contact with a superconductor. The third approach is based on phase-coherent tailoring of the electromagnetic environment to manipulate heat transfer due to electron-photon interaction. This objective can be reached by inductively-coupling these reservoirs through suitable phase-dependent quantum circuits.

During the first 30 months of the project we have developed a number of new phase caloritronic nanostructures. In particular single- and double-loop fully balanced thermal interferometers were demonstrated as well as the first phase-tunable diffractor for thermal fluxes. Moreover, the first hybrid superconducting thermal diode, i.e., the thermal counterpart of the electrical rectifier, has been recently demonstrated with rectfication coeffients as high as 140.

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