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Single electron tunneling rates in multijunction circuits

H. Grabert, G.-L. Ingold, M. H. Devoret, D. Esteve, H. Pothier und C. Urbina

Z. Phys. B 84, 143–155 (1991) DOI: 10.1007/BF01453767


The rate of electron tunneling through normal metal tunnel junctions is calculated for the case of ultrasmall junction capacitances. The so-called Coulomb blockade of electron tunneling at low temperatures is shown to be strongly affected by the external electrical circuit. Under the common experimental condition of a low impedance environment the Coulomb blockade is suppressed for single tunnel junctions. However, a Coulomb gap structure emerges for junctions embedded in a high impedance environment. For a double junction setup a Coulomb blockade of tunneling arises even for low impedance environments due to the charge quantization on the metallic island between the junctions. An approach using circuit analysis is presented which allows to reduce the calculation of tunneling rates in multijunction circuits to those of a single junction in series with an effective capacitance. The range of validity of the so-called local rule and global rule rates is clarified. It is found that the tunneling rate tends towards the global rule rate as the number of junctions is increased. Some specific results are given for a one-dimensional array of tunnel junctions.


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