WASHINGTON, D.C., August 5, 2014 By carefully controlling the position of an atomic-scale diamond defect within a volume smaller than what some viruses would fill, researchers have cleared a path toward better quantum computers and nanoscale sensors. They describe their technique in a paper published in the journal Applied Physics Letters, from AIP Publishing.
David Awschalom, a physicist at the Institute for Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago, and his colleagues study a technologically useful diamond defect called a nitrogen vacancy (NV) center. NV centers consist of a nitrogen atom adjacent to a vacant spot that replaces two carbon atoms in the diamond crystal, leaving an unpaired electron. Researchers can use a property of the unpaired electron known as its spin to store and transmit quantum information at room temperature.
Qubits and Quantum Sensors
NV centers are attractive candidates for qubits, the quantum equivalent of a classical computing bit. A single NV center can also be used for completely different applications, such as measuring temperature, as well as to image electric and magnetic fields on the nanometer-scale by placing it at the tip of a diamond-based scanning probe.
A primary obstacle to further exploiting NV centers for practical quantum computing and nanoscale sensing devices lies in the difficulty of placing the centers within what Awschalom calls the functional "sweet spots" of the devices. Another challenge is increasing the NV center density without sacrificing their spin lifetimes, which must remain long in order to extract the most useful information from the system.
Awschalom and his colleagues have developed a new way to create NV centers that could help overcome both these challenges.
That's the Spot
The key to the team's new approach is to create the nitrogen and vacancy defects separately, Awschalom said. First, the team g
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American Institute of Physics