A Step Toward the Future of Quantum Computing

Quantum computers will someday run faster and solve more complex problems than modern machines could ever achieve. Scientists hope that the power of quantum computing will advance research in fields from cryptography to pharmaceuticals.

Some quantum computing methods use photons — particles of light — to store and send information. The photons replace the strings of 1s and 0s used by today’s computers. However, it has been a challenge for researchers to develop a material that can emit single photons on demand and that works at room temperature. These qualities would make quantum systems better fit for commercialization.

Now, researchers at The Graduate Center, CUNY, and The City College of New York, including Professor Vinod Menon and Professor Carlos Meriles, have demonstrated a material that can emit single photons from precise spots at room temperature, and can do so on demand. Their results appear in the journal Optica.

“Prior work has either shown materials at room temperature in which the photons are emitted from random locations,” Vinod said, “or materials that have deterministic photon placement but work at cryogenic temperatures.”

The team used a single-atom thick material called hexagonal boron nitride. Their method, the researchers say, is scalable. This means it could someday be used in devices made on an industrial level. “The fact that hexagonal boron nitride is a 2D material means it can be deposited on any structure,” Meriles said, “and operating at room temperature is highly desirable in the quest for practical devices.”

Graduate School Ph.D. student Nicholas Proscia, post-doctoral researchers Zav Shotan and Harishankar Jayakumar, and undergraduate students Charles Cohen and Michael Dollar are also authors on the study. Other collaborators include the Australian National University and the Center for Physical Science and Technology in Lithuania.

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Vinod Menon (Professor, Physics) | Profile 1
Carlos Meriles (Professor, Physics) | Profile 1