We review the properties of electron shuttles, i.e., nanoelectromechanical devices that transport electrons one by one by utilizing a combination of electronic and mechanical degrees of freedom. We focus on the extreme quantum limit, where the mechanical motion is quantized. We introduce the main theoretical tools needed for the analysis, e.g., generalized master equations and Wigner functions, and we outline the methods how the resulting large numerical problems can be handled. Illustrative results are given for current, noise, and full counting statistics for a number of model systems. Throughout the review we focus on the physics behind the various approximations, and some simple examples are given to illustrate the theoretical concepts. We also comment on the experimental situation. ©2005 American Institute of Physics
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