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!
Meteoritic stardust unlocks timing of supernova dust formation
19.01.2018 | Carnegie Institution for Science
Artificial agent designs quantum experiments
19.01.2018 | Universität Innsbruck
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine
19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy