Science 2 min read

Researchers Develop Artificial Atoms to Boost Quantum Technology

MasterTux / Pixabay

MasterTux / Pixabay

Researchers from the University of Oregon have created artificial atoms that remain stable at room temperature, a breakthrough that could open new possibilities for quantum technology. In their paper published in the journal Nano Letters, the team reported that they used white graphene to develop these new atoms.

Benjamin Alemán, a physicist from the University of Oregon and a co-author of the paper, said:

“The big breakthrough is that we’ve discovered a simple, scalable way to nanofabricate artificial atoms onto a microchip and that the artificial atoms work in air and at room temperature.”

The atoms were discovered when Joshua Ziegler, a researcher in Alemán’s lab and first author of the study, drilled holes into a 2D sheet of white graphene, scientifically known as hexagonal boron nitride. Ziegler reportedly chose this material because of its color and thickness which is similar to pure graphene.

The Artificial Atoms

In their paper, Ziegler described drilling 500-nanometer wide and 4-nanometer deep holes into the graphene sheet using focused ion beams. Then, they analyzed the layer using a technique called optical confocal microscopy.

The team discovered that the holes were emitting minuscule spots of light. Further analysis of the spots revealed that they were producing one photon at a time, the lowest possible level. While counting the photons, Ziegler and Alemán also found that the spots themselves were artificial atoms which share many of their properties with atoms in the real world.

Alemán further said:

“Our work provides a source of single photons that could act as carriers of quantum information or as qubits. We’ve patterned these sources, creating as many as we want, where we want. We’d like to pattern these single photon emitters into circuits or networks on a microchip so they can talk to each other, or to other existing qubits, like solid-state spins or superconducting circuit qubits.”

According to the researchers, the artificial atoms could be used to boost quantum technologies currently being developed. For instance, they can be used as tiny, ultra-sensitive thermometers for transferring, distributing, storing, or processing quantum information.

Read More: The Future Could Be Made Of “Artificial Atoms” Or Nanocrystals

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Chelle is the Product Management Lead at INK. She's an experienced SEO professional as well as UX researcher and designer. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with her family and friends.

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