Since it first appeared on the cover of Nature in February 2000, the quantum mirage” has featured on posters, calendars, websites and the covers of various books and magazines. The image – which was obtained using a scanning tunnelling microscope – shows the electronic wavefunctions inside an elliptical “quantum corral” made of cobalt atoms on a copper surface. It was created by Hari Manoharan, Christopher Lutz and Don Eigler of the IBM Almaden Research Center in California. In 1990, working with Erhard Schweizer, Eiger spelt out the letters “IBM” using 35 xenon atoms. And three years later, working with Lutz and Michael Crommie, he released the first images of the “quantum corral”, which have also been reproduced in numerous places.
The quantum mirage uses the wave nature of electrons to move the information, instead of a wire, so it has the potential to enable data transfer within future nano-scale electronic circuits so small that conventional wires do not work. It will be years before this technology becomes practical, but it could eventually yield computers that are many orders of magnitude smaller, faster, and less power-hungry than anything we can conceive today.Recommend this topic