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Charge quantization and detector resolution

Roman-Pascal Riwar

SciPost Phys. 10, 093 (2021) · published 29 April 2021


Charge quantization, or the absence thereof, is a central theme in quantum circuit theory, with dramatic consequences for the predicted circuit dynamics. Very recently, the question of whether or not charge should actually be described as quantized has enjoyed renewed widespread interest, with however seemingly contradictory propositions. Here, we intend to reconcile these different approaches, by arguing that ultimately, charge quantization is not an intrinsic system property, but instead depends on the spatial resolution of the charge detector. We show that the latter can be directly probed by unique geometric signatures in the correlations of the supercurrent. We illustrate these findings at the example of Josephson junction arrays in the superinductor regime, where the transported charge appears to be continuous. Finally, we comment on potential consequences of charge quantization beyond superconducting circuits.

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