Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

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

Nanofiltration Membrane Market 2015 - Global Industry Survey, Analysis, Size, Share, Outlook and Forecast to 2020 July 31st, 2015

Nanozirconia Market 2015 - Global Industry Survey, Analysis, Size, Share, Outlook and Forecast to 2020 July 31st, 2015

Self-Healing Nano Anti-rust Coatings Market 2015 - Global Industry Survey, Analysis, Size, Share, Outlook and Forecast to 2020 July 31st, 2015

Nano Spray Instrument Market 2015 - Global Industry Survey, Analysis, Size, Share, Outlook and Forecast to 2020 July 31st, 2015

Spintronics

Spintronics: Molecules stabilizing magnetism: Organic molecules fixing the magnetic orientation of a cobalt surface/ building block for a compact and low-cost storage technology/ publication in Nature Materials July 25th, 2015

Penn researchers discover new chiral property of silicon, with photonic applications July 25th, 2015

Spintronics just got faster July 20th, 2015

Fundamental observation of spin-controlled electrical conduction in metals: Ultrafast terahertz spectroscopy yields direct insight into the building block of modern magnetic memories July 6th, 2015

Quantum Computing

Quantum networks: Back and forth are not equal distances! July 28th, 2015

The quantum middle man July 2nd, 2015

Freezing single atoms to absolute zero with microwaves brings quantum technology closer: Atoms frozen to absolute zero using microwaves July 2nd, 2015

Producing spin-entangled electrons July 2nd, 2015

Discoveries

Heating and cooling with light leads to ultrafast DNA diagnostics July 31st, 2015

Theoretical Physicists at Freie Universität Berlin Develop New Insights into Interface between Classical and Quantum Worlds July 31st, 2015

Sol-gel capacitor dielectric offers record-high energy storage July 30th, 2015

Controlling Dynamic Behavior of Carbon Nanosheets in Structures Made Possible July 30th, 2015

Materials/Metamaterials

Nanofiltration Membrane Market 2015 - Global Industry Survey, Analysis, Size, Share, Outlook and Forecast to 2020 July 31st, 2015

Nanozirconia Market 2015 - Global Industry Survey, Analysis, Size, Share, Outlook and Forecast to 2020 July 31st, 2015

Self-Healing Nano Anti-rust Coatings Market 2015 - Global Industry Survey, Analysis, Size, Share, Outlook and Forecast to 2020 July 31st, 2015

Nanocellulose Market 2015 - Global Industry Survey, Analysis, Size, Share, Outlook and Forecast to 2020 July 31st, 2015

Announcements

Nano Spray Instrument Market 2015 - Global Industry Survey, Analysis, Size, Share, Outlook and Forecast to 2020 July 31st, 2015

Nanocellulose Market 2015 - Global Industry Survey, Analysis, Size, Share, Outlook and Forecast to 2020 July 31st, 2015

Heating and cooling with light leads to ultrafast DNA diagnostics July 31st, 2015

Theoretical Physicists at Freie Universität Berlin Develop New Insights into Interface between Classical and Quantum Worlds July 31st, 2015

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

Nano Spray Instrument Market 2015 - Global Industry Survey, Analysis, Size, Share, Outlook and Forecast to 2020 July 31st, 2015

Nanocellulose Market 2015 - Global Industry Survey, Analysis, Size, Share, Outlook and Forecast to 2020 July 31st, 2015

Heating and cooling with light leads to ultrafast DNA diagnostics July 31st, 2015

Theoretical Physicists at Freie Universität Berlin Develop New Insights into Interface between Classical and Quantum Worlds July 31st, 2015

Photonics/Optics/Lasers

Heating and cooling with light leads to ultrafast DNA diagnostics July 31st, 2015

IEEE Photonics Society Applauds Rochester on Integrated Photonics Institute Win July 30th, 2015

March 2016; 6th Int'l Conference on Nanostructures in Iran July 29th, 2015

Controlling phase changes in solids: Controlling phase changes in solids July 29th, 2015

Research partnerships

Newly-Developed Polymers Control Size of Nanoparticles during Production Process July 30th, 2015

Meet the high-performance single-molecule diode: Major milestone in molecular electronics scored by Berkeley Lab and Columbia University team July 29th, 2015

Spintronics: Molecules stabilizing magnetism: Organic molecules fixing the magnetic orientation of a cobalt surface/ building block for a compact and low-cost storage technology/ publication in Nature Materials July 25th, 2015

Stretching the limits on conducting wires July 25th, 2015

Quantum nanoscience

Theoretical Physicists at Freie Universität Berlin Develop New Insights into Interface between Classical and Quantum Worlds July 31st, 2015

Detecting small metallic contaminants in food via magnetization: A practical metallic-contaminant detecting system using three high-Tc RF superconducting quantum interference devices (SQUIDs) July 29th, 2015

Drawing a line between quantum and classical world: Bell's Inequality fails as a test of the boundary July 21st, 2015

World first: Significant development in the understanding of macroscopic quantum behavior: Researchers from Polytechnique Montréal and Imperial College London demonstrate the wavelike quantum behavior of a polariton condensate on a macroscopic scale and at room temperature July 14th, 2015

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