Latest News

Diamond microdisk “with huge potential” for quantum computing

quantum computing

The diamond microdisk made by Paul Barclay and his team of physicists could lead to huge advances in computing, telecommunications, and other fields.

Barclay and his research group — part of the University of Calgary’s Institute for Quantum Science and Technology and the National Institute of Nanotechnology — have made the first-ever nano-sized optical resonator (or optical cavity) from a single crystal of diamond that is also a mechanical resonator.

The team also measured — in the coupling of light and mechanical motion in the device — the high-frequency, long-lasting mechanical vibrations caused by the energy of light trapped and bouncing inside the diamond microdisk optical cavity.

“Diamond optomechanical devices offer a platform to study the quantum behaviour of microscopic objects,” said Barclay, associate professor of physics and astronomy and Alberta Innovates Scholar in Quantum Nanotechnology in the Faculty of Science.

“These devices also have many potential applications, including state-of-the-art sensing, technology for shifting the colour of light, and quantum information and computing technologies.”

Advancing technology and quantum research

 Quantum nanophotonics involves developing micro and nanoscale (about 100 times smaller than the width of a human hair) circuits for manipulating light.

Instead of microcircuits in which electricity is conducted by wires — found in computers, cell phones and other telecommunication technologies — nanophotonics involves transmitting light through wires. It is like fibre optic technology, but at a much smaller and potentially more complex scale, allowing information to be transmitted more densely and more efficiently.

Nanophotonic technology also is a boon to researchers exploring new regimes of quantum physics — the nature of matter and energy on the atomic and subatomic level.

“The ability to trap light in nanoscale volumes in an optical cavity creates high electromagnetic intensity from tiny amounts of light, and amplifies light-matter interactions that are typically nearly impossible to study,” said Barclay.

Diamond: a quantum researcher’s ‘best friend’

Barclay’s group used diamond to make their microdisk, which looks like a microscopic-sized hockey puck (the optical cavity) supported by a very tiny hourglass-shaped pillar in the centre.

The group used light to vibrate the disk to a gigahertz frequency, which is the frequency used in computers and cell phone transmission.

“It shows that diamond has a lot of potential as a material for making mechanical oscillators at this scale,” said Barclay.

“Imagine taking a tuning fork made of diamond and ringing it. It’s going to ring at a very high frequency for a really long time. This also helps us measure these delicate quantum effects.”

quantum computing
Left to right: David Lake, Paul Barclay, Matthew Mitchell, Tamiko Masuda, and Behzad Khanaliloo. Barclay, associate professor of physics and astronomy and his students fabricated a quantum microdisk from commercially available synthetic, single-crystal diamond chips. Image: University of Calgary.
Send this to a friend