Device Produces Controllable Single Photons from Quantum Dots

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DUBLIN, July 16, 2020 — For quantum computing applications, it will be necessary to control emissions from quantum emitters, or quantum dots (QDs), and to produce quantum entanglement of the emission from pairs of QDs. A new photon-emitting device developed at Trinity College Dublin enables controllable, directional emission of single photons from QDs and can produce entangled states of pairs of QDs.

To create the device, the researchers focused a plasmonic waveguide within a few nm of a surface containing the QDs. When they excited the tip of the waveguide, it generated enough power over a sufficiently small region to strongly drive quantum emitters. This enabled ultrafast single-photon emission, and also created entangled states between two emitters when performing a controlled-NOT operation.

“The device works by placing a metal tip within a few nanometers of a surface containing the quantum dots,” professor John Donegan said. “The tip is excited by light and produces an electric field of such enormous intensity that it can greatly increase the number of single photons emitted by the dots. This strong field can also couple emission from pairs of quantum dots, entangling their states in a way that is unique to quantum emitters of light.”

By using a movable plasmonic waveguide instead of stationary nanostructures, the system enables high-speed rasterization between sets of qubits and enables spatially flexible data storage and quantum information processing.

The researchers demonstrated cavity-free dynamic entanglement through subdiffraction focusing of the waveguide. “By scanning the metal tip over the surface containing the quantum dots, we can generate the single-photon emission as required,” professor Ortwin Hess said. “Such a device is much simpler than current systems that attempt to fix a metal tip, or a cavity, in close proximity to a quantum dot.”

The Trinity team believes that its device could reduce fabrication constraints and increase the speed and scalability of nanophotonic quantum devices and advance research in emitters for quantum technologies. The team plans to fabricate devices that will demonstrate controlled single-photon emission and contribute strongly to the research effort in quantum technologies in Ireland.

The research was published in Nano Letters (  

Published: July 2020
The term quantum refers to the fundamental unit or discrete amount of a physical quantity involved in interactions at the atomic and subatomic scales. It originates from quantum theory, a branch of physics that emerged in the early 20th century to explain phenomena observed on very small scales, where classical physics fails to provide accurate explanations. In the context of quantum theory, several key concepts are associated with the term quantum: Quantum mechanics: This is the branch of...
quantum dots
A quantum dot is a nanoscale semiconductor structure, typically composed of materials like cadmium selenide or indium arsenide, that exhibits unique quantum mechanical properties. These properties arise from the confinement of electrons within the dot, leading to discrete energy levels, or "quantization" of energy, similar to the behavior of individual atoms or molecules. Quantum dots have a size on the order of a few nanometers and can emit or absorb photons (light) with precise wavelengths,...
quantum entanglement
Quantum entanglement is a phenomenon in quantum mechanics where two or more particles become correlated to such an extent that the state of one particle instantly influences the state of the other(s), regardless of the distance separating them. This means that the properties of each particle, such as position, momentum, spin, or polarization, are interdependent in a way that classical physics cannot explain. When particles become entangled, their individual quantum states become inseparable,...
Plasmonics is a field of science and technology that focuses on the interaction between electromagnetic radiation and free electrons in a metal or semiconductor at the nanoscale. Specifically, plasmonics deals with the collective oscillations of these free electrons, known as surface plasmons, which can confine and manipulate light on the nanometer scale. Surface plasmons are formed when incident photons couple with the conduction electrons at the interface between a metal or semiconductor...
Research & TechnologyeducationEuropeTrinity College Dublinquantumquantum dotsquantum emittersquantum entanglementsingle photonsquantum emitterplasmonicsplasmonic waveguideLight SourcesMaterialsOpticsEuro News

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