Diamond Materials

Diamond Materials for Quantum Application

23. September 2014: The DFG research group FOR 1493 “Diamond Materials and Quantum Applications” goes into its second funding period. FOR1493 is a national research consortium funded by the Deutsche Forsch-ungsgemeinschaft.

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ERC Advanced Grant


ERC Advanced Investigator Grant SQUTEC „Spin Quantum Technologies“

Quantum Technology with Electron Spins, Prof. Jörg Wrachtrup

Prof. Jörg Wrachtrup (Foto: Hirschmann)

Due to the advancing miniaturization of atomically structured solids as well as the integration of optical, mechanical and electronic components, quantum mechanical phenomena can be detected and used in a novel direction. The SQUTEC project will exploit this development in order to process and transfer information with extremely high speed and to design sensors of hitherto unequalled sensitivity. The key to success will be a material known for its special hardness and optical transparency: diamond. By precise doping with foreign substances, such as nitrogen for example, specific color centers can be produced. Physically speaking, those centers behave like embedded atoms: They are optically addressable and shielded from the environment by the diamond lattice. S atoms provide an excellent source for quantum technology. By using electron spins of a particular sort of diamond defects, quantum states can be prepared which are a prerequisite for data information transfer and processing. One particularity of this method is of great importance for practical applications: The diamond lattice protects the electron spins to such an extent that it allows the experiments to be performed at room temperature.

The ERC Grant will enable the realization of many technically demanding stages such as the positioning of nuclear impurities with nearly atomic accuracy. A purpose-built implanter will allow for the implementation of single atoms through extremely small apertures. With this technique, it will be possible to engineer large clusters of interacting impurities. Based on this principle, complex quantum states could be created and exploited for further applications.

Laser (Foto: Hirschmann)

Moreover, quantum arrays can be used for sensor applications since diamond defect centres have proven to be excellent sensors of magnetic fields. Built into nano probes, they permit detection of magnetic fields of single electron and nuclear spins with sub nanometer precision. This could be the first step to decoding structures of complex materials or molecules – such as proteins – with unprecedented accuracy. At the same time, diamonds of only few nanometers in size can be implanted into cells or tissue to serve as local probes for ph-value or the concentration of cell-damaging substances. Together with scientific work on the application of nanodiamonds as genetic or pharmaceutical ingredient carriers, the Grant allows for discovering new and attractive perspectives of usage.

The researchers at the 3rd Institute of Physics of the University of Stuttgart are internationally renowned for their work on manipulation of single atoms in diamond and have achieved numerous publications notably in Nature, Nature Physics and Science. In 2009 they succeeded in synthesizing diamond out of methane plasma with purity 10.000 times higher than flawless diamonds (Pressemitteilung). A year ago, they achieved, in collaboration with the Ruhr Universität Bochum and colleagues from Austin/Texas, placement of two nitrogen atoms within only a few nanometers distance. Between the two atoms, they achieved quantum mechanical coupling through laser excitation thus setting a new milestone for quantum computing.
Professor Jörg Wrachtrup was born in 1961 in Herford and studied physics at the Freie Universität Berlin where he finished his doctorate in 1994 with his thesis on magnetic resonance in single molecules. As a postdoc, he continued his research at the Institute of Physics at the Technische Universität Chemnitz where he habilitated in 1998 working on ‘Optical Spectroscopy on Single Quantum Systems in Solid State’. He received offers for professorship from the universities in Hamburg, Göttingen, Leipzig and Stuttgart – the latter he accepted in January 2000. Since then he has directed the 3rd Physics Institute at the University of Stuttgart.