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Archive for April 27th, 2011

Diamonds – The Future of Quantum Networks

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Diamonds, the Future of Quantum NetworksCrystals have often been used in Science Fiction Movies in weapons or ‘high tech’ futuristic equipment. Well the future may now be closer at have with advances in technology with diamonds.

Five researchers from the Hewlett Packard Laboratories in Palo Alto, California Andrei Faraon, Paul E. Barclay, Charles Santori, Kai-Mei C. Fu & Raymond G. Beausoleil, have found a way to use the impurities found in diamonds as a potential future communication network. The discovery is a method of using impurities in diamonds as a way of creating nodes in a quantum network.

A quantum network is where different locations can be connected at a sub atomic particle level. This would be immensely useful in electronics, for example, where billions of connections could be made ‘on the head of a pin’ as it were.

The researchers from the University of Calgary and Hewlett Packard Labs in Palo Alto researchers have successfully come up with a way to use the impurities in diamonds as a way of creating a node in a quantum network as well as the potential to make powerful and secure networks, this discovery could also help sensitive measurements of magnetic fields and even create new powerful platforms for biological and medical applications.

“Impurities in diamonds have recently been used to store information encoded onto their quantum state, which can be controlled and read out using light. But coming up with robust way to create connections needed to pass on signals between these impurities is difficult,” says Dr. Paul Barclay, who recently moved to Calgary to start labs at the University of Calgary in the Institute for Quantum Information Science and at the National Institute for Nanotechnology in Edmonton.

“We have taken an important step towards achieving this,” adds Barclay. Barclay and colleagues Dr. Andrei Faraon, Dr. Kai-Mei Fu, Dr. Charles Santori and Dr. Ray Beausoleil from Hewlett Packard have published a paper on their research in the journal Nature Photonics.

It is the impurities in diamonds that are responsible for the various colors and tints you find in some diamonds, commonly the red and yellow tints. The “NV center” impurity, which consists of a nitrogen atom and a vacancy in otherwise perfect diamond carbon lattice, has quantum properties that researchers are learning to exploit for useful applications.

β€œThe idea is that individual particles of light, photons, can be used to transfer this quantum information between impurities, each of which could be a node in a quantum network used for energy efficient and powerful information processing. In practice, this is challenging to demonstrate because of the small size of the impurities (a few nanometers) and the experimental complexity that comes along with studying and controlling several nanoscale quantum systems at once.”

“This work demonstrates the important connection between fundamental physics, blue sky applications, and near-term problem solving. It involves many of the same concepts being pushed by companies such as HP, IBM, and Intel who are beginning to integrate photonics with computer hardware to increase performance and reduce the major problem of heat generation,” says Barclay.

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