(Phys.org) A major challenge in developing quantum technologies is that the quantum phenomena are very fragile, and only a handful of physical systems have been identified in which they survive long enough and are sufficiently controllable to be useful. Atomic defects in materials such as diamond are one such system, but a lack of techniques for fabricating and engineering crystal defects at the atomic scale has limited progress to date.
Now, a team of scientists have demonstrated the success of a new method to create particular defects in diamonds known as nitrogen-vacancy (NV) colour centres. The new research was carried out by a team led by Prof Jason Smith in the Department of Materials, University of Oxford, and Dr. Patrick Salter and Prof Martin Booth in the Dept of Engineering Science, University of Oxford, in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Warwick. It took place within the research programme of NQIT, the Quantum Computing Technology Hub of the UK Quantum Technologies Programme, with support from DeBeers UK who supplied the diamond sample.
The scientists believe that this method might ultimately be used to fabricate centimetre-sized diamond chips containing 100,000 or more NV centres as a route towards the ‘holy grail’ of quantum technologies, a universal fault-tolerant quantum computer. Prof Martin Booth says: ‘Colour centres in diamond offer a very exciting platform for developing compact and robust quantum technologies, and this new process is a potential game-changer in the engineering of the required materials.”