The pigment, copper phthalocyanine (CuPc), which is similar to the light harvesting section of the chlorophyll molecule, is a low-cost organic semiconductor that is found in many household products.
Crucially, it can be processed into a thin film that can be readily used for device fabrication, a significant advantage over similar materials that have been studied previously.
Now, researchers from the London Centre for Nanotechnology at UCL and the University of British Columbia have shown that the electrons in CuPc can remain in 'superposition' – an intrinsically quantum effect where the electron exists in two states at once - for surprisingly long times, showing this simple dye molecule has potential as a medium for quantum technologies.
The development of quantum computing requires precise control of tiny individual "qubits", the quantum analogs of the classical binary bits, '0' and '1', which underpin all of our computation and communications technologies today. What distinguishes the "qubits" from classical bits is their ability to exist in superposition states.
The decay time of such superpositions tells us how useful a candidate qubit could be in quantum technologies. If this time is long, quantum data storage, manipulation and transmission become possible.
Lead author Marc Warner from the London Centre for Nanotechnology, said: "In theory, a quantum computer can easily solve problems that a normal, classical, computer would not be able to answer in the lifetime of the universe. We just don't know how to build one yet.
"Our research shows that a common blue dye has more potential for quantum computing than many of the more exotic molecules that have been considered previously."
CuPc possesses many other attributes that could exploit the spin of electrons, rather than their charge, to store and process information which are highly desirable in a more conventional quantum technology. For example, the pigment strongly absorbs visible light and is easy to modify chemically and physically, so its magnetic and electrical properties can be controlled.
Dr Warner added: "The properties of copper phthalocyanine make it of interest for the emerging field of quantum engineering, which seeks to exploit the quantum properties of matter to perform tasks like information processing or sensing more effectively than has ever been possible."
Notes for editors
1. For more information or to speak to Dr Marc Warner, please contact Clare Ryan in the UCL Media Relations Office on tel: +44 (0)20 3108 3846, mobile: +44 07747 556 056, out of hours +44 (0)7917 271 364, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2. 'Potential for Spin-Based Information Processing in Metallo-Organic Semiconductors', DOI: 10.1038/nature12597, is published online today in Nature. For copies of the paper please contact UCL Media Relations.
3. An image illustrating the research is available to journalists on request from UCL Media Relations. Caption: Phthalocyanine thin film on a flexible plastic substrate, showing the coexistence of long-lived "0" and "1" qubits on the copper spin. The molecules form a regular array together with the metal-free analogues, and the background represents the lattice fringes of the molecular crystals obtained by transmission electron microscopy."
About UCL (University College London)
Founded in 1826, UCL was the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, the first to admit students regardless of race, class, religion or gender and the first to provide systematic teaching of law, architecture and medicine.
We are among the world's top universities, as reflected by our performance in a range of international rankings and tables. According to the Thomson Scientific Citation Index, UCL is the second most highly cited European university and the 15th most highly cited in the world.
UCL has nearly 27,000 students from 150 countries and more than 9,000 employees, of whom one third are from outside the UK. The university is based in Bloomsbury in the heart of London, but also has two international campuses – UCL Australia and UCL Qatar. Our annual income is more than £800 million.
Clare Ryan | EurekAlert!
New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers
21.04.2017 | California Institute of Technology
Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy
21.04.2017 | Stockholm University
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...
Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.
A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy