PerspectivePhysics

Quantized Electronic Heat Flow

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Science  01 Nov 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6158, pp. 569-570
DOI: 10.1126/science.1246105

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Summary

Traffic laws impose strict limits on the maximum speed of cars on a highway. In nanoscale electronics, the laws of quantum physics similarly set an upper limit to the electrical conductance of a conductor. This was first demonstrated three decades ago (1, 2) on a quantum point contact—a narrow constriction connecting two electronic reservoirs. A similar prediction has been made for the maximal heat conductance of an electronic conductor (3, 4), but an experimental verification has so far been missing. On page 601 of this issue, Jezouin et al. (5) measure the quantum-limited electronic heat flow in a quantum point contact, paving the way for novel heat-control technologies at the nanoscale.