Researchers light up 'dark' spins in diamond

Oct 27, 2005

Discovery could lead to room temperature quantum computing

Researchers at UC Santa Barbara have potentially opened up a new avenue toward room temperature quantum information processing. By demonstrating the ability to image and control single isolated electron spins in diamond, they unexpectedly discovered a new channel for transferring information to other surrounding spins -- an initial step towards spin-based information processing.

Quantum information processing uses the remarkable aspects of quantum mechanics as the basis for a new generation of computing and secure communication. The spin of a particle is quantum mechanical in nature, and is considered a viable candidate to implement such technologies.

A team of researchers including graduate students Ryan Epstein and Felix Mendoza, and their advisor, David Awschalom, a professor of physics, were intrigued by the long-lived electronic spins of so-called nitrogen-vacancy impurities in the diamond crystal – defects that only consist of two atomic sites. So, about two years ago, they embarked on developing a sensitive room temperature microscope that would allow them to study individual defects through their light emission.

This microscope, with its unique precision in the control of the magnetic field alignment, has allowed them to not only detect individual nitrogen-vacancy defects, but also small numbers of previously invisible 'dark' spins from nitrogen defects in their vicinity. These spins are called 'dark' because they cannot be directly detected by light emission and yet, it appears that they may prove extremely useful.

"We have found a channel for moving information between single electron spins at room temperature," said Awschalom. "This bodes well for making networks of spins, using the dark spins as wires, in order to process information at the atomic level."

The paper, "Anisotropic interactions of a single spin and dark-spin spectroscopy in diamond," is being published by Nature Physics in November 2005, and is available through advance online publication at: www.nature.com/nphys/journal/vaop/ncurrent/index.html

Source: University of California - Santa Barbara

Explore further: Physicists develop efficient method of signal transmission from nanocomponents

Related Stories

Researchers exploring spintronics in graphene

May 06, 2015

Electronics is based on the manipulation of electrons and other charge carriers, but in addition to charge, electrons possess a property known as spin. When spin is manipulated with magnetic and electric ...

Defects in atomically thin semiconductor emit single photons

May 04, 2015

Researchers at the University of Rochester have shown that defects on an atomically thin semiconductor can produce light-emitting quantum dots. The quantum dots serve as a source of single photons and could be useful for ...

Electron trapping harnessed to make light sensors

Apr 21, 2015

Traps. Whether you're squaring off against the Empire or trying to wring electricity out of sunlight, they're almost never a good thing. But sometimes you can turn that trap to your advantage. A team from ...

Graphene looking promising for future spintronic devices

Apr 10, 2015

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology have discovered that large area graphene is able to preserve electron spin over an extended period, and communicate it over greater distances than had previously ...

Recommended for you

Artificial muscles get graphene boost

May 22, 2015

Researchers in South Korea have developed an electrode consisting of a single-atom-thick layer of carbon to help make more durable artificial muscles.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.