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Electrified diamonds: Physicists on the trail of quantum information

Date:
November 19, 2013
Source:
Universität Basel
Summary:
With the help of tiny diamond crystals, physicists have discovered new possibilities of quantum information: The scientists discovered at specific circumstances electric currents that made it possible to identify defects in the carbon lattice of single diamonds measuring only a few nanometers.
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Scanning tunneling microscopy image showing the surface structure of nanodiamonds.
Credit: Image courtesy of Universität Basel

With the help of tiny diamond crystals, physicists at the University of Basel have discovered new possibilities of quantum information: The scientists discovered at specific circumstances electric currents that made it possible to identify defects in the carbon lattice of single diamonds measuring only a few nanometers.

The results have been published online in the magazine Nano-Letters.

The team from the University of Basel and the French German Research Institute St. Louis (ISL) investigated diamond crystals of the size of only five nanometers (five millionths millimeter) using scanning tunneling microscopy and atomic force microscopy. The physicists then identified the atomic structure of the surface and observed crystalline, hexagonal carbon facets as well as graphitic reconstructions. In doing so, they discovered extra currents at specific voltages when the crystals were illuminated by green light.

These extra currents are related to the presence of defects in the carbon lattice of diamonds, so called Nitrogen-vacancy centers (NV-centers) that are optically active. These centers are promising candidates for future applications in quantum information processing systems, spin-magnetometry sensors or single photon sources. Their identification in the range of less than ten nanometers would have been very difficult with conventional methods, which is why the scientists applied a combination of different methods.

"With this study, we are able to show that it is possible to prove, with high resolution, the presence of optical centers in single nanodiamonds," says Prof. Ernst Meyer of the Department of Physics at the University of Basel. In the future, NV-centers could be used in quantum computers that work much more efficiently than conventional computers.


Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Universität Basel. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Rémy Pawlak, Thilo Glatzel, Vincent Pichot, Loïc Schmidlin, Shigeki Kawai, Sweetlana Fremy, Denis Spitzer, Ernst Meyer. Local Detection of Nitrogen-Vacancy Centers in a Nanodiamond Monolayer. Nano Letters, 2013; 131107010035009 DOI: 10.1021/nl402243s

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Universität Basel. "Electrified diamonds: Physicists on the trail of quantum information." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131119082832.htm>.
Universität Basel. (2013, November 19). Electrified diamonds: Physicists on the trail of quantum information. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 2, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131119082832.htm
Universität Basel. "Electrified diamonds: Physicists on the trail of quantum information." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131119082832.htm (accessed August 2, 2015).

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