Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors



Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > Molecular engineers record an electron's quantum behavior

These images show a diamond sample with a hemispherical lens (right and lower left), and the location of a single electron spin/quantum state visible through its light emission (upper left). The scale bar on the image at upper left measures five microns, the approximate diameter of a red blood cell.

Credit: Courtesy of Awschalom Lab/University of Chicago
These images show a diamond sample with a hemispherical lens (right and lower left), and the location of a single electron spin/quantum state visible through its light emission (upper left). The scale bar on the image at upper left measures five microns, the approximate diameter of a red blood cell.

Credit: Courtesy of Awschalom Lab/University of Chicago

Abstract:
A team of researchers led by the University of Chicago has developed a technique to record the quantum mechanical behavior of an individual electron contained within a nanoscale defect in diamond. Their technique uses ultrafast pulses of laser light both to control the defect's entire quantum state and observe how that single electron state changes over time. The work appears in this week's online Science Express and will be published in print later this month in Science.

Molecular engineers record an electron's quantum behavior

Chicago, IL | Posted on August 14th, 2014

This research contributes to the emerging science of quantum information processing, which demands that science leave behind the unambiguous universe of traditional binary logic—0 or 1—and embrace the counterintuitive quantum world, where behavior is radically different from what humans experience every day. While people are generally content being in one place at a time, electrons can be in many states at once.

The team researches a quantum mechanical property of the electron known as spin. Much like conventional computers use the charge state of electrons to constitute bits of information, a quantum computer would use the spin state of a single electron as its quantum bit, or qubit. The work could accelerate development of quantum computing devices, and the extra computing power that would come with them, because it will be easier to identify materials that have appropriate quantum properties.

The spin system studied is known as the nitrogen-vacancy (NV) center, an atom-sized defect that occurs naturally in diamond, consisting of a nitrogen atom next to a vacant spot in the crystal lattice. "These defects have garnered great interest over the past decade, providing a test-bed system for developing semiconductor quantum bits as well as nanoscale sensors," said team leader David Awschalom, the Liew Family Professor of Molecular Engineering at UChicago. "Here, we were able to harness light to completely control the quantum state of this defect at extremely high speeds."

Quantum snapshots

In this new technique, the researchers locate a single NV center and then illuminate it with a pair of extremely short pulses of laser light. Each pulse lasts less than a picosecond (or a millionth of a millionth of a second). The first pulse excites the quantum states of the defect-bound electron, which then change or evolve in characteristic ways. The second pulse stops that evolution, capturing a picture of the quantum state at that elapsed time.

By progressively extending the elapsed time between the two pulses, the team creates a sequence of quantum-state snapshots—a movie of how the quantum state changes in time. The elapsed time can be as short as femtoseconds (a billionth of a millionth of a second) or as long as nanoseconds (a thousandth of a millionth of a second). On the human scale, this range of time is like the difference between an hour and a century.

Having this vast range of timescales makes the technique especially valuable. The electron is susceptible and interacts with its complex local environment in many different ways, each with a characteristic timescale. Being able to test a wide range of these timescales gives a far more complete picture of the dynamics of the NV center than has been obtained previously.

"Our goal was to push the limits of quantum control in these remarkable defect systems," explained Lee Bassett, co-lead author on the paper and now an assistant professor of electrical and systems engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, "but the technique also provides an exciting new measurement tool. By using pulses of light to direct the defect's quantum dynamics on super-short timescales, we can extract a wealth of information about the defect and its environment."

"It's quite a versatile technique, providing a full picture of the excited state of the quantum defect," said F. Joseph Heremans, a postdoctoral scholar at UChicago, the other co-lead author on the paper. "Previous work on the nitrogen-vacancy center has hinted at some of these processes, but here, simply through the application of these ultrafast pulses, we get a much richer understanding of this quantum beast."

Spin control

It's not just a matter of observation, though. "This technique also provides a means of control of the spin state—an important precursor for any quantum information system," said Evelyn Hu, a professor of applied physics and electrical engineering at Harvard University, who is not connected with the new work.

In addition, the method is not limited to investigating this particular defect. It could be applied to quantum states of matter in a host of materials and technologies, including many semiconductor materials. "You only have to be able to use light to transfer an electron between a ground state and an excited state," said Awschalom.

Professor Guido Burkard, theoretical physicist at the University of Konstanz and a co-author on the paper, remarked, "This technique offers a path toward understanding and controlling new materials at the atomic level."

Hu agrees that the technique opens many new avenues. "Each new system will pose new challenges to understanding the energy levels, local environments, and other properties, but the general approach should provide an enormous step forward for the field," said Hu.

###

In addition to researchers from UChicago's Institute for Molecular Engineering, the team included collaborators at the University of California, Santa Barbara (co-lead author Lee Bassett is now at the University of Pennsylvania), and the University of Konstanz, Germany.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Steve Koppes
773-702-8366

Copyright © University of Chicago

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Atom-thick CCD could capture images: Rice University scientists develop two-dimensional, light-sensitive material December 20th, 2014

Oregon researchers glimpse pathway of sunlight to electricity: Collaboration with Lund University uses modified UO spectroscopy equipment to study 'maze' of connections in photoactive quantum dots December 19th, 2014

Instant-start computers possible with new breakthrough December 19th, 2014

Aculon Hires New Business Development Director December 19th, 2014

Spintronics

Switching to spintronics: Berkeley Lab reports on electric field switching of ferromagnetism at room temp December 17th, 2014

Pb islands in a sea of graphene magnetise the material of the future December 16th, 2014

'Giant' charge density disturbances discovered in nanomaterials: Juelich researchers amplify Friedel oscillations in thin metallic films November 26th, 2014

Researchers create & control spin waves, lifting prospects for enhanced info processing November 17th, 2014

Quantum Computing

Nanoscale resistors for quantum devices: The electrical characteristics of new thin-film chromium oxide resistors that can be tuned by controlling the oxygen content detailed in the 'Journal of Applied Physics' December 9th, 2014

Electron pairs on demand: Controlled emission and spatial splitting of electron pairs demonstrated December 4th, 2014

Graphene layer reads optical information from nanodiamonds electronically: Possible read head for quantum computers December 1st, 2014

University of Minnesota engineers make sound loud enough to bend light on a computer chip: Device could improve wireless communications systems November 28th, 2014

Discoveries

Atom-thick CCD could capture images: Rice University scientists develop two-dimensional, light-sensitive material December 20th, 2014

Oregon researchers glimpse pathway of sunlight to electricity: Collaboration with Lund University uses modified UO spectroscopy equipment to study 'maze' of connections in photoactive quantum dots December 19th, 2014

Instant-start computers possible with new breakthrough December 19th, 2014

Iranian Scientists Use Nanotechnology to Increase Power, Energy of Supercapacitors December 18th, 2014

Materials/Metamaterials

Aculon Hires New Business Development Director December 19th, 2014

ORNL microscopy pencils patterns in polymers at the nanoscale December 17th, 2014

Pb islands in a sea of graphene magnetise the material of the future December 16th, 2014

Graphene Applied in Production of Recyclable Electrodes December 13th, 2014

Announcements

Atom-thick CCD could capture images: Rice University scientists develop two-dimensional, light-sensitive material December 20th, 2014

Oregon researchers glimpse pathway of sunlight to electricity: Collaboration with Lund University uses modified UO spectroscopy equipment to study 'maze' of connections in photoactive quantum dots December 19th, 2014

Instant-start computers possible with new breakthrough December 19th, 2014

Aculon Hires New Business Development Director December 19th, 2014

Interviews/Book Reviews/Essays/Reports/Podcasts/Journals/White papers

Atom-thick CCD could capture images: Rice University scientists develop two-dimensional, light-sensitive material December 20th, 2014

Oregon researchers glimpse pathway of sunlight to electricity: Collaboration with Lund University uses modified UO spectroscopy equipment to study 'maze' of connections in photoactive quantum dots December 19th, 2014

Instant-start computers possible with new breakthrough December 19th, 2014

Iranian Scientists Use Nanotechnology to Increase Power, Energy of Supercapacitors December 18th, 2014

Photonics/Optics/Lasers

Atom-thick CCD could capture images: Rice University scientists develop two-dimensional, light-sensitive material December 20th, 2014

Nanoshaping method points to future manufacturing technology December 11th, 2014

Stacking two-dimensional materials may lower cost of semiconductor devices December 11th, 2014

Defects are perfect in laser-induced graphene: Rice University lab discovers simple way to make material for energy storage, electronics December 10th, 2014

Research partnerships

Oregon researchers glimpse pathway of sunlight to electricity: Collaboration with Lund University uses modified UO spectroscopy equipment to study 'maze' of connections in photoactive quantum dots December 19th, 2014

Unraveling the light of fireflies December 17th, 2014

Scientists trace nanoparticles from plants to caterpillars: Rice University study examines how nanoparticles behave in food chain December 16th, 2014

FEI and Oregon Health & Science University Install a Complete Correlative Microscopy Workflow in Newly Built Collaborative Science Facility December 16th, 2014

Quantum nanoscience

Fraud-proof credit card possible because of quantum physics December 16th, 2014

Nanoscale resistors for quantum devices: The electrical characteristics of new thin-film chromium oxide resistors that can be tuned by controlling the oxygen content detailed in the 'Journal of Applied Physics' December 9th, 2014

High photosensitivity 2D-few-layered molybdenum diselenide phototransistors December 8th, 2014

Electron pairs on demand: Controlled emission and spatial splitting of electron pairs demonstrated December 4th, 2014

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More










ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE