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Flawed diamonds could be the key to unlocking next-generation technology

Researchers at the University of Maryland (UMD) have developed a method to build diamond-based hybrid nanoparticles from the ground up, avoiding many of the problems with current methods. At the heart of the process are tiny, flawed diamonds with a specific impurity: a single nitrogen atom where a carbon atom should be, with an empty space right next to it, due to a second missing carbon atom. This type of impurity gives diamonds special optical and electromagnetic properties, according to the researchers.

“If you pair one of these diamonds with silver or gold nanoparticles, the metal can enhance the nanodiamond’s optical properties,” said Min Ouyang, UMD associate professor of physics and senior author on the study.

“If you couple the nanodiamond to a semiconducting quantum dot, the hybrid particle can transfer energy more efficiently.”

Furthermore, evidence suggests that the special properties of these diamonds could allow them to function as quantum bits at room temperature, as opposed to the ultra-cold temperatures required of almost all other quantum bits. A quantum bit that works at room temperature could facilitate the integration of quantum circuits into industrial, commercial and consumer-level electronics, which could revolutionise the way humans store and process information, according to the professor.

With their potential for developments in nanomaterials, the diamonds could also play a part in the creation of faster computer chips, high-resolution medical imaging devices and energy-efficient electronics, according to

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