Room-temperature boron nitride monolayer light source emits single photons on demand
Monolayer emitter is well-suited for using on optical chips in quantum systems.
|In an artist's concept, a 2D nanoflake of boron nitride (the triangle with a missing atom, which is a color center) emits single red photons on demand, useful for quantum-communications technologies. (Image supplied by the UTS research team)|
Many advances in quantum-optical technology are highlighted in Laser Focus World, including photon sources, detectors, and optical and fiber-optics systems that maintain entanglement between photons. The topic of quantum optics may seem esoteric, but it has the potential to produce powerful results, such as truly secure communications, and quantum computers that have the ability to solve hugely complex problems -- such as deciphering just about any type of encrypted communications that is not quantum-based.
Along these lines, researchers at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS; Ultimo, Australia) have created a type of single-photon emitter that both operates at room temperature and is two-dimensional (unlike previous bulky 3D devices), meaning that it can be integrated into photonic chips.1 Based on a molecular monolayer of hexagonal boron nitride containing a color center, the light source produces polarized single-photon emission on demand, useful for quantum information processing.
Igor Aharonovich, one of the UTS researchers, says the single photon sources are brighter than any other others currently available and are promising enablers for absolutely secure communications and quantum computation.
"This material is very easy to fabricate," says Trong Toan Tran, another UTS researcher. "It's a much more viable option because it can be used at room temperature; it's cheap, sustainable and is available in large quantities. "Ultimately we want to build a 'plug and play' device that can generate single photons on demand, which will be used as a first prototype source for scalable quantum technologies that will pave the way to quantum computing with hexagonal boron nitride."
1. Toan Trong Tran et al., Nature Nanotechnology (2015); doi: 10.1038/nnano.2015.242