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2D materials: the catalyst for future quantum technologies

2D materials: the catalyst for future quantum technologies


Scientists at the Cavendish Laboratory have shown for the first time that a single “atomic defect” in the thin material hexagonal boron nitride (hBN) exhibits spin coherence at room temperature and that these spins can be controlled with light. discovered. Spin coherence refers to the ability of electron spins to retain quantum information over time. This discovery is important because materials that can retain their quantum properties at room temperature are extremely rare.

The findings, published in Nature Materials, provide further evidence that the spin coherence available at room temperature is longer than researchers originally imagined. “This result shows that if you write a specific quantum state into the spins of these electrons, this information is preserved for up to a millionth of a second, making this system a very promising platform for quantum applications.” “We show that this is the case,” said co-investigator Carmem M. Gilardoni. – Paper author and Rubicon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Cavendish Laboratory.

“It may seem short, but what's interesting is that this system doesn't require any special conditions; it can preserve spin quantum states even at room temperature without the need for large magnets.”

Hexagonal boron nitride (hBN) is an ultrathin material made of one-atom-thick layers, similar to paper. These layers are held together by intermolecular forces. However, in some cases, crystal-like “atomic defects” with molecules trapped within these layers can exist. These defects can absorb and emit light in the visible region with well-defined optical transitions and can act as local traps for electrons. These “atomic defects” in hBN have allowed scientists to study how these trapped electrons behave. They can study the properties of spin, which allows electrons to interact with magnetic fields. What's really interesting is that researchers can use light to control and manipulate electron spins within these defects at room temperature.

This discovery paves the way for future technological applications, especially in sensing technology.

However, as this is the first time spin coherence has been reported in this system, there is a lot to be explored before it is mature enough for technological applications. Scientists are still exploring how to further improve these defects and make them more reliable. They are now investigating how long the spin storage time can be extended, as well as whether they can optimize system and material parameters that are important for quantum technology applications, such as the stability of the defect over time and the quality of the light emitted from this defect.

“The use of this system highlights the power of fundamental research in materials. As far as hBN systems are concerned, we as a field are looking forward to harnessing excited-state dynamics in other new material platforms for use in future quantum technologies. ,” Dr. Hanna said. Stern, lead author of the paper, carried out the research at the Cavendish Laboratory and is currently a Royal Society University Fellow and a lecturer at the University of Manchester.

In the future, researchers are looking to further develop the system, exploring a variety of directions, from quantum sensors to secure communications.

“Each new promising system expands the toolkit of available materials, and each new step in this direction will advance the scalable implementation of quantum technologies. “This study confirms the promise of layered materials,” concluded Professor Mette Ataturle, head of the research department. The Cavendish Institute led the project.




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