Quantum phase transitions of light

September 4th, 2006  |  by  |  published in All, Papers

Nature Physics, 2, 856, 2006

Recently, condensed matter and atomic experiments have reached a length-scale and temperature regime where new quantum collective phenomena emerge. Finding such physics in systems of photons, however, is problematic, as photons typically do not interact with each other and can be created or destroyed at will. Here, we introduce a physical system of photons that exhibits strongly correlated dynamics on a meso-scale. By adding photons to a two-dimensional array of coupled optical cavities each containing a single two-level atom in the photon-blockade regime, we form dressed states, or polaritons, that are both long-lived and strongly interacting. Our zero temperature results predict that this photonic system will undergo a characteristic Mott insulator (excitations localised on each site) to superfluid (excitations delocalised across the lattice) quantum phase transition. Each cavity’s impressive photon out-coupling potential may lead to actual devices based on these quantum many-body effects, as well as observable, tunable quantum simulators. We explicitly show that such phenomena may be observable in micro-machined diamond containing nitrogen-vacancy colour centres and superconducting microwave strip-line resonators.

Thesis: Silicon in the Quantum Limit: Quantum Computing and Decoherence in Silicon Architectures

August 15th, 2005  |  by  |  published in All, Papers, Preprints

Thesis, 2005, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Semiconductor architectures hold promise for quantum information processing (QIP) applications due to their large industrial base and perceived scalability potential. Electron spins in silicon in particular may be an excellent architecture for QIP and also for spin electronics (spintronics) applications. While the charge of an electron is easily manipulated by charged gates, the spin degree of freedom is well isolated from charge fluctuations. Inherently small spin-orbit coupling and the existence of a spin-zero Si isotope facilitate long single spin qubit coherence times. Here we consider the relaxation properties of localized electronic states in silicon due to donors, quantum wells, and quantum dots, including effects due to phonons and Rashba spin-orbit coupling. Our analysis is impeded by the complicated, many-valley band structure of silicon and previously unaddressed physics in silicon quantum wells. We find that electron spins in silicon and especially strained silicon have excellent decoherence properties. Where possible we compare with experiment to test our theories. We go beyond issues of coherence in a quantum computer to problems of control and measurement. Precisely what makes spin relaxation so long in semiconductor architectures makes spin measurement so difficult. To address this, we propose a new scheme for spin readout which has the added benefit of automatic spin initialization, a vital component of quantum computing and quantum error correction. Our results represent important practical milestones on the way to the design and construction of a silicon-based quantum computer.

Nanotechnology and Society: A discussion-based undergraduate course

July 8th, 2005  |  by  |  published in All, Nanotechnology, Papers, Preprints, Technology and Society

Am. J. Phys. 74, 4 (April 2006)

Nanotechnology has emerged as a broad, exciting, yet ill-defined field of scientific research and technological innovation. There are important questions about the technology’s potential economic, social, and environmental implications. We discuss an undergraduate course on nanoscience and nanotechnology for students from a wide range of disciplines, including the natural and social sciences, the humanities, and engineering. The course explores these questions and the broader place of technology in contemporary societies. The course is built around active learning methods and seeks to develop the students’ critical thinking skills, written and verbal communication abilities, and general knowledge of nanoscience and nanoengineering concepts. Continuous assessment was used to gain information about the effectiveness of class discussions and enhancement of student understanding of the interaction between nanotechnology and society.

Rashba spin-orbit coupling and spin relaxation in silicon quantum wells

July 27th, 2004  |  by  |  published in All, Papers

Phys. Rev. B 71, 075315 (2005)

Silicon is a leading candidate material for spin-based devices, and two-dimensional electron gases (2DEGs) formed in silicon heterostructures have been proposed for both spin transport and quantum dot quantum computing applications. The key parameter for these applications is the spin relaxation time. Here we apply the theory of D’yakonov and Perel’ (DP) to calculate the electron spin resonance linewidth of a silicon 2DEG due to structural inversion asymmetry for arbitrary static magnetic field direction at low temperatures. We estimate the Rashba spin-orbit coupling coefficient in silicon quantum wells and find the $T_{1}$ and $T_{2}$ times of the spins from this mechanism as a function of momentum scattering time, magnetic field, and device-specific parameters. We obtain agreement with existing data for the angular dependence of the relaxation times and show that the magnitudes are consistent with the DP mechanism. We suggest how to increase the relaxation times by appropriate device design.

Coulomb Blockade in a Silicon/Silicon-Germanium Two-Dimensional Electron Gas Quantum Dot

April 20th, 2004  |  by  |  published in All, Papers

Appl. Phys. Lett. v84, p4047 (2004)

We report the fabrication and electrical characterization of a single electron transistor in a modulation doped silicon/silicon-germanium heterostructure. The quantum dot is fabricated by electron beam lithography and subsequent reactive ion etching. The dot potential and electron density are modified by laterally defined side gates in the plane of the dot. Low temperature measurements show Coulomb blockade with a single electron charging energy of 3.2 meV.

Spin Readout and Initialization in a Semiconductor Quantum Dot

March 29th, 2004  |  by  |  published in All, Papers

Phys. Rev. Lett. v92, p037901 (2004)

Electron spin qubits in semiconductors are attractive from the viewpoint of long coherence times. However, single spin measurement is challenging. Several promising schemes incorporate ancillary tunnel couplings that may provide unwanted channels for decoherence. Here, we propose a novel spin-charge transduction scheme, converting spin information to orbital information within a single quantum dot by microwave excitation. The same quantum dot can be used for rapid initialization, gating, and readout. We present detailed modeling of such a device in silicon to confirm its feasibility.

Decoherence of electron spin qubits in Si-based quantum computers

June 20th, 2002  |  by  |  published in All, Papers

Phys. Rev. B, 66, 035314 (2002)

Direct phonon spin-lattice relaxation of an electron qubit bound by a donor impurity or quantum dot in SiGe heterostructures is investigated. The aim is to evaluate the importance of decoherence from this mechanism in several important solid-state quantum computer designs operating at low temperatures. We calculate the relaxation rate $1/T_1$ as a function of [100] uniaxial strain, temperature, magnetic field, and silicon/germanium content for Si:P bound electrons. The quantum dot potential is much smoother, leading to smaller splittings of the valley degeneracies. We have estimated these splittings in order to obtain upper bounds for the relaxation rate. In general, we find that the relaxation rate is strongly decreased by uniaxial compressive strain in a SiGe-Si-SiGe quantum well, making this strain an important positive design feature. Ge in high concentrations (particularly over 85%) increases the rate, making Si-rich materials preferable. We conclude that SiGe bound electron qubits must meet certain conditions to minimize decoherence but that spin-phonon relaxation does not rule out the solid-state implementation of error-tolerant quantum computing.

Tahan Research

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