Credit: Evelyn Hu/Harvard
In the race to design the world’s first universal quantum computer, a special kind of diamond defect called a nitrogen vacancy (NV) center is playing a big role. NV centers consist of a nitrogen atom and a vacant site that together replace two adjacent carbon atoms in diamond crystal. The defects can record or store quantum information and transmit it in the form of light, but the weak signal is hard to identify, extract and transmit unless it is intensified.
Now a team of researchers at Harvard, the University of California, Santa Barbara and the University of Chicago has taken a major step forward in effectively enhancing the fluorescent light emission of diamond nitrogen vacancy centers – a key step to using the atom-sized defects in future quantum computers. The technique, described in the journal Applied Physics Letters, from AIP Publishing, hinges on the very precise positioning of NV centers within a structure called a photonic cavity that can boost the light signal from the defect.
A Potential Qubit Power Couple
NV centers contain an unpaired electron that can store information in a property known as spin. Researchers can “read” the spin state of the electron by observing the intensity of particular frequencies of the light that the NV center emits when illuminated by a laser.
At room temperatures, this pattern of light emission couples to multiple “sideband” frequencies, making it difficult to interpret. To amplify the most important element of the signal researchers can use a structure called a photonic cavity, which consists of a pattern of nanoscale holes that serve to enhance the NV center’s light emission at its main frequency.
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