Electron Waiting Times in Mesoscopic Conductors

Mathias Albert*, Géraldine Haack, Christian Flindt, Markus Büttiker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)


Electron transport in mesoscopic conductors has traditionally involved investigations of the mean current and the fluctuations of the current. A complementary view on charge transport is provided by the distribution of waiting times between charge carriers, but a proper theoretical framework for coherent electronic systems has so far been lacking. Here we develop a quantum theory of electron waiting times in mesoscopic conductors expressed by a compact determinant formula. We illustrate our methodology by calculating the waiting time distribution for a quantum point contact and find a crossover from Wigner-Dyson statistics at full transmission to Poisson statistics close to pinch-off. Even when the low-frequency transport is noiseless, the electrons are not equally spaced in time due to their inherent wave nature. We discuss the implications for renewal theory in mesoscopic systems and point out several analogies with level spacing statistics and random matrix theory.

Original languageEnglish
Article number186806
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2012
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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