Experimental evidence and consequences of rare events in quantum tunneling
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Tiny spatial fluctuations of tunnel barrier parameters are shown to have dramatic consequences on the statistical properties of quantum tunneling. A direct experimental evidence is provided that the tunnel current through metal-oxide junctions, imaged at a nanometric scale, exhibits broad statistical distributions extending over more than 4 orders of magnitude. Striking effects of broad current distributions are shown: the total tunnel transmission is dominated by few highly transmitting sites and the typical current density varies strongly with the size of the junction. Moreover, self-averaging of the tunnel current fluctuations occurs only for unexpectedly large junction areas.
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