Mesoscopic Physics SK2700

This course runs annually in reading period 2

Circuits of small capacitance superconducting tunnel junctions. The left panel shows a single junction biased by an array of Superconducting Quantum-Interference Devices, SQUID:s. The right panel shows a superconducting “box” connected to Au leads through two SQUID:s, and capacitively coupled to a single electron transistor. Such circuits have interesting quantum electrodynamic properties which are studied at Nanostructure Physics, KTH


Course Home Page: Link to course material and information (under password protection)

What is Mesoscopic Physics?

Mesoscopic physics is a relatively new branch of physics. The Greek prefix "meso" means middle, or in between, so mesoscopic refers to the physics of objects in between the microscopic realm of atoms, molecules and quantum mechanics, and the macroscopic realm of continuum electrodynamics or continuum mechanics.  Mesoscopic physics  has emerged together with advances in electronic circuit fabrication, where lithography is used to make very small, nanometer scale objects after a prescribed design. We will study electronic properties of small circuit elements, so-called “Nano-electronics”, but we will also look take a quick look at nano mechanical systems.  We therefore might call this course “Nano-physics”.

We will study physical models from which we can understand how these small nanometer-scale systems behave.  To construct these models we need to combine ideas from macroscopic and microscopic physics in new and interesting ways.  For example, we will study the quantized conductance of a quantum point contact, where a nanometer scale structure made with lithography is treated as a wave guide for the quantum wave function of the electron.  Another example is the Coulomb blockade, where the electrostatic capacitance of a small metallic grain or "island", carefully placed in between source and drain electrical leads, gives a blocking of electrical current in the circuit, due to the significant charging energy needed for adding one single quantum of charge on to the island.  The Coulomb blockade is particularly interesting in superconducting circuits, where the complementarity of superconducting phase and particle number give rise to a duality in the electrodynamics superconducting nano-circuits.

The course is designed to give an overview to 4th year undergraduate students and beginning graduate students who are interested in the physics of this mesoscopic regime, where many technological applications are emerging. We will take a look at the historical development of many of these ideas, which were first observed in rather crude ways, for example by electrical measurements on composite materials of very small grains.  We will also discuss the state-of-the-art today, where the extension of microelectronic technology in to the nanometer regime, gives us individual nanometer sized objects in well defined structures, fabricated with incredible precision after a prescribed design and connected  in to a complex circuit, which is measured in well controlled experiments.  We will take a quick look at nano electro-mechanical systems, and we also discuss the methods of nanofabrication used in Mesoscopic physics.

The exact content of this course will vary from year to year.  Some of the reading will be from recent research literature.  The lectures will be given by Prof. David Haviland (Nanostructure Physics, KTH). The labs and demonstrations will involve the equipment in the Albanova Nanofabricaton Facility.

Course Syllabus:

The Syllabus for previous years is found here.

Homework problems:

Home work problems will be assigned weekly, due the following week.  The homework and lab reports will be the basis for the course grade. Homework assignments will be posted on the web in and area with restricted access (Link).

Course Literature:

We will work from materials distributed to participants through the web via a restricted access (Link).
Here is a list of books and articles which are helpful in this course:


The  schedule for this course is found  here.

The person responsible for maintenance of this page is Prof. David Haviland, Department of Physics, KTH.
(e-mail link to Prof. Haviland from Nano Physics homepage

Prof. David Haviland, Nanostructure Physics, KTH