Scientists find flaw in quantum dot construction
Nanoscientists dream of developing a quantum computer, a device the size of a grain of sand that could be faster and more powerful than todays PCs. Theyve identified tiny artificial atoms – called "quantum dots" – as the most likely materials to build these machines, but have been puzzled by the dots unpredictable behavior at the nanoscale.
Now a team of Ohio University physicists thinks its found the problem – and has proposed a blueprint for building a better quantum dot. The researchers, who published their findings in this weeks issue of Physical Review Letters, argue that defects formed during creation of the quantum dots operate as a barrier to scientific experimentation.
Experimental scientists in Germany had blasted the quantum dots with light to create the quantum mechanical state needed to run a quantum computer. But they couldnt consistently control that state, explained Sergio Ulloa, an Ohio University professor of physics and astronomy. Jose Villas-Boas, a postdoctoral fellow at Ohio University, Ulloa and Associate Professor Alexander Govorov developed theoretical models to learn what went wrong.
The problem, they argued, happens during the creation of the type of quantum dots under study. Using a molecular beam epitaxy chamber, scientists spray paint a surface with atoms under high temperatures, creating an atomic coating. As more layers are added, the quantum dots bead up on the surface like droplets of water, Ulloa said. But a fine residue left behind on the surface that Ulloa calls the "wetting layer" can cause problems during experiments. When experimental scientists blasted the quantum dots with a beam of light in previous studies, the wetting layer caused interference, instead of allowing the light to enter the dot and trigger the quantum state, he explained.
The study suggests that scientists could tweak the process by re-focusing the beam of light or changing the duration of the light pulses to negate the effects of the wetting layer, Villas-Boas said. One experimental physicist already has used the theoretical finding to successfully manipulate a quantum dot in the lab, he added. "Now that they know the problem, they realize there are a few ways to avoid it," Villas-Boas said.
The new finding ultimately could lead to the creation of a better quantum dot and can help scientists understand more about quantum states, Ulloa added. "Its one more step towards the holy grail of finding a better quantum bit, which hopefully will lead to a quantum computer," he said.
Nanoscientists are creating quantum dots in many different ways, Ulloa noted, for use in various applications. The self-assembled type under study could be used in optical electronics and quantum computers. Other types, such as dots grown in a solution, might be used for solar energy applications.
The study also will help the Ohio University team better understand how to control the spin of electrons – a property that could be the underlying mechanism behind faster, more efficient future electronic devices, he added.
Andrea Gibson | EurekAlert!
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.
For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...
What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.
To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...
A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes
The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....
Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through
A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...
Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision
Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...