2D Material Stores Quantum Information at Room Temperature

 2D Material Stores Quantum Information at Room Temperature

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A two-dimensional substance has been found that can store quantum information at room temperature. 

Quantum memory is an important part of a quantum internet, where quantum information is stored and sent by photons, or light particles. 

The Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge University has made a two-dimensional material called hexagonal boron nitride that can make single photons from atom-sized defects in its structure. This material can be made at room temperature. 

Light from these flaws gives off information about a quantum feature called spin, which can be used to store quantum information. Importantly, light and temperature can get to the quantum spin. 

A quantum network made of two-dimensional materials could one day run at room temperature. Nature Communications is where the findings are. 

Future networks will use single photons to send messages. This will make communication more secure around the world. 

Quantum computers and networks would be a lot more powerful and secure than the technology we have now. However, researchers still need to find a way to make single, unidentifiable photons that can be used as information carriers across quantum networks. 

“Photons can be used to send information, but to build real quantum networks, we need to send information, store it, and send it again,” said Dr. Hannah Stern, a co-first author of the paper with Qiushi Gu and Dr. John Jarman. “We need materials that can store quantum information at a normal temperature for a long time, but most of the materials we have now are hard to make and only work at low temperatures.” 

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Hexagonal boron nitride is made in huge reactors by chemical vapor deposition, which is how it is made. It’s also cheap. Some recent research has found single photon emitters and a lot of optically accessible spins, but no spin-photon interfaces that are completely separate from each other. 

A Trinity College Junior Research Fellow, Stern, said it’s a “drab” material that’s used as an insulator. “However, we found flaws in this material that make it good for quantum systems because it makes single photons.” If we can store quantum information in spin, this is a good idea. 

Hexagon boron nitride was put near a gold antenna and a strong magnet by Stern and her team. They saw a lot of different magnetic field-dependent changes in the light that came from the material when they shot a laser at it at room temperature. 

Using a laser, the researchers found that they could change the spin of defects and use them to store quantum information. 

Usually, the signal is the same in these kinds of systems. In this case, it changes depending on the fault we’re looking at, and not all defects show a signal. “It’s like a blanket that’s been stretched over a moving surface. There are a lot of ripples, but each one is unique.” 

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It will be important to study the photophysics of these solitary spins after they have been found in this material at room temperature, says professor Mete Atature. They could be used for things like information storage and quantum sensing in the future. Fun physics will follow.

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