Advancing Quantum Technologies through Optically Interfaced Solid-State Spins

c97DV2rM / December 9, 2023

Developing Quantum Technologies With Optically Interfaced Solid-State Spins

Developing quantum technologies requires pushing the limits of materials, nanofabrication and electrical control engineering. It also requires cryogenics or high-vacuum systems and environmental shielding to protect the qubits from contamination and mechanical stress.

Quantum sensors could enable more precise measurements, and quantum computers could rapidly complete tasks that classical machines cannot efficiently solve, including factoring large numbers. In addition, they could be used to secure communications.

Quantum computing

Unlike classical computer bits that can only be 1 or 0, quantum computing uses qubits, which can exist in many different states at the same time. Its power grows exponentially as the number of qubits increases, and it is expected to solve complex problems more quickly than conventional computers.

Scientists are working on several ways to build quantum computers, but they need to address the problem of decoherence. This happens when the slightest disturbance causes the quantum state to collapse or become error-prone. This can happen even when the qubits are isolated from other parts of a device.

The best solution is to use the properties of spin defects in solid-state materials. These materials have ultra-low temperatures and allow electrons to pass through them without resistance. They also form Cooper pairs, which can transfer a charge over barriers or insulators using a process called quantum tunneling. The key to this process is entanglement, where the properties of two defect spins are connected.

Quantum sensing

The inherent weakness of quantum technology – its insensitivity to external perturbations – turns into a strength when it comes to sensing. This makes it possible to build sensors with previously unheard-of sensitivity and precision. Atomic clocks are a prime example, and they are now used in military applications such as missile guidance and civilian use such as underground geophysical monitoring (like at volcanoes or roads).

Quantum sensing is a complex application that requires a broad knowledge of defect, host material, spin, and optical properties. This includes a comprehensive understanding of how to control the spin-defect state with the help of the host lattice structure and how to increase coherence time through isotopic purification, tuning dimensionality, or the choice of dopant. It also demands a high level of fidelity in the readout process. This can be achieved using spin-dependent optical coupling and a robust tunable magnetic readout. The results are a very small, tunable, and high-resolution sensor with good noise performance and low temperature dependence.

Quantum communication

Quantum communication relies on entangled qubits and the faithful transmission of these entangled quantum states to their destination. This requires stable, high-fidelity qubits with fast and efficient readout, atomic control to ensure long-distance entanglement and low microwave and optical losses in the host crystal.

Defects with spins in the solid-state offer a variety of relevant applications for quantum sensing, computing and communication. They can function as sensors tuned for specific environments or analytes, as nodes that emit photons at desired frequencies for quantum optical networking, and as innovative new approaches to quantum computing.

However, to exploit the full potential of these defects, a comprehensive understanding of their optical, charge and material properties is required. This includes characterization of the spin-dependent optical processes that couple these defects to light and their impact on polarization, readout and initialization as well as their fidelity and entanglement. These issues are crucial for realizing the full potential of defect-based quantum technologies.

Quantum storage

Creating efficient memory for quantum information is a major challenge for science. Efficient storage is required to store and retrieve quantum signals in the form of photons. To do this, scientists use optical quantum memories that can detect and record the quantum state of a single photon.

Quantum memory can be stored in a variety of ways. One technique involves using a laser to generate a spatially encoded pulse of light in an ultracold atomic gas. This pulse can then be retrieved by another laser. However, this method suffers from diffusion of the atoms in the gas.

In contrast, other techniques involve recording the spin of a single atom in a semiconductor crystal. This approach has advantages over other methods, including lower operating temperatures and higher storage capacities. It also allows for faster readout speeds and greater entanglement. However, it requires more complex engineering considerations. These include the choice of a material, creation, and design.

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