Harnessing silicon for quantum technologies could enable low-cost, scalable integration into existing microelectronics.
Now Berkeley Lab researchers have uncovered a better technique to generate silicon-based quantum light emitters, unlocking this abundant material’s possibilities.
By pulsing ion beams rather than using continuous exposure, they produced an order of magnitude more atomic-scale emitters. These quantum “colour centres” emit single photons that allow qubit manipulation, making them ideal for quantum networks and computers.
The pulsed method seems to transiently excite the crystal lattice in ways that promote emitter formation. Computer simulations also revealed that emitted photon colours indicate local strain – a potential sensing application.
The team probed emitters at cryogenic temperatures to uncover beam intensity effects on optical properties. This illuminates new paths to deliberately engineering desired quantum emitters through fabrication techniques.
Understanding the relationships between ion beams, lattice strain, and emitter characteristics is key to designing ideal qubits. With enhanced control, the researchers envision mass-producing customizable emitters for seamless integration into silicon microelectronics.
Silicon provides a supremely scalable platform for qubit manufacturing due to its widespread use. But mastering silicon’s finicky quantum defects has remained elusive – until now.
By unlocking prolific high-quality single photon sources, this discovery brings us substantially closer to enabling secure quantum communication, distributed quantum networks, and potentially even silicon-based quantum computing.
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More information: Wei Liu et al, Quantum Emitter Formation Dynamics and Probing of Radiation-Induced Atomic Disorder in Silicon, Physical Review Applied (2023). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevApplied.20.014058