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Ideal single-photon source developed

Date:
September 7, 2015
Source:
Universität Basel
Summary:
With the help of a semiconductor quantum dot, physicists have developed a new type of light source that emits single photons. For the first time, the researchers have managed to create a stream of identical photons.
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Semiconductor quantum dot emitting a stream of identical photons.
Credit: Image courtesy of Universität Basel

With the help of a semiconductor quantum dot, physicists at the University of Basel have developed a new type of light source that emits single photons. For the first time, the researchers have managed to create a stream of identical photons. They have reported their findings in the scientific journal Nature Communications together with colleagues from the University of Bochum.

A single-photon source never emits two or more photons at the same time. Single photons are important in the field of quantum information technology where, for example, they are used in quantum computers. Alongside the brightness and robustness of the light source, the indistinguishability of the photons is especially crucial. In particular, this means that all photons must be the same color. Creating such a source of identical single photons has proven very difficult in the past.

However, quantum dots made of semiconductor materials are offering new hope. A quantum dot is a collection of a few hundred thousand atoms that can form itself into a semiconductor under certain conditions. Single electrons can be captured in these quantum dots and locked into a very small area. An individual photon is emitted when an engineered quantum state collapses.

Noise in the semiconductor

A team of scientists led by Dr. Andreas Kuhlmann and Prof. Richard J. Warburton from the University of Basel have already shown in past publications that the indistinguishability of the photons is reduced by the fluctuating nuclear spin of the quantum dot atoms. For the first time ever, the scientists have managed to control the nuclear spin to such an extent that even photons sent out at very large intervals are the same color.

Quantum cryptography and quantum communication are two potential areas of application for single-photon sources. These technologies could make it possible to perform calculations that are far beyond the capabilities of today's computers.

The study was supported by the QSIT - Quantum Science and Technology National Center of Competence in Research, of which the University of Basel is the co-leading house.


Story Source:

Materials provided by Universität Basel. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Andreas V. Kuhlmann, Jonathan H. Prechtel, Julien Houel, Arne Ludwig, Dirk Reuter, Andreas D. Wieck, und Richard J. Warburton. Transform-limited single photons from a single quantum dot. Nature Communications, September 2015 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms9204

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Universität Basel. "Ideal single-photon source developed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 September 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150907101211.htm>.
Universität Basel. (2015, September 7). Ideal single-photon source developed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 26, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150907101211.htm
Universität Basel. "Ideal single-photon source developed." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150907101211.htm (accessed May 26, 2017).

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