On-demand room-temperature single-photon array produces precisely located photons

Sept. 21, 2018
Previously, quantum emitters producing single photons at room temperature emitted them from random locations.

Physicists at The City College of New York (CCNY) have used atomically thin two-dimensional materials to realize an array of on-demand quantum emitters operating at room temperature that can be integrated into next-generation quantum-communication systems.1 CCNY professors Carlos Meriles and Vinod Menon and their colleagues used hexagonal boron nitride (hBN) placed on nanopillars to demonstrate single-photon emission at the pillar locations.

In simplest terms, the breakthrough allows one to know where the single-photon emitters are located. Single-photon emitters are essential building blocks for next-generation quantum communication and computing protocols as they can be used as a quantum bit (qubit). The current breakthrough has solved a long-standing and practical hurdle of realizing deterministic single-photon emitters at room temperature. Previously, very low temperatures were necessary or the photons were hard to extract using other materials such as diamond, notes Menon. And, if single-photon emission did occur at room temperature, it happened at random locations.

The large energy gap of hBN stabilizes the emitters at room temperature within nanoscale regions created by substrate-induced deformation of the hBN. The smallest pillars, which were 75 nm in diameter, contained an average of about 2 emitters. The arrays can be manipulated via a combination of strain and external electrostatic potentials.

Source: https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/news/demand-room-temperature-single-photon-array-quantum-communication-breakthrough-ccny-physicists


1. Nicholas V. Proscia et al., Optica (2018); https://doi.org/10.1364/OPTICA.5.001128.

About the Author

John Wallace | Senior Technical Editor (1998-2022)

John Wallace was with Laser Focus World for nearly 25 years, retiring in late June 2022. He obtained a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and physics at Rutgers University and a master's in optical engineering at the University of Rochester. Before becoming an editor, John worked as an engineer at RCA, Exxon, Eastman Kodak, and GCA Corporation.

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