US NRL scientists discover technique to improve quantum technology

30 January 2020 (Last Updated January 30th, 2020 14:59)

Scientists at the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) have discovered a new technique for quantum technologies to develop new materials for secure communication and sensing technologies.

US NRL scientists discover technique to improve quantum technology
Suspended two-dimensional crystals over pores in a slab of gold (center image) allow NRL scientists to connect quantum light sources (inset images) in a ready-made network. Credit: Jeremy Robinson/US Naval Research Laboratory.

Scientists at the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) have discovered a new technique for quantum technologies to develop new materials for secure communication and sensing technologies.

The platform was discovered by suspending two-dimensional (2D) crystals over pores in a slab of gold. The approach is expected to improve quantum technology.

Researchers expected to observe the dewetting process, which resulted from the interaction between the surfaces of two solids.

The heating of the metal caused a reorientation of the underlying slab instead of forming droplets on the glass base below the gold that became porous throughout.

Based on this physical change, researchers tested for other side effects of the combination.

NRL materials research scientist Jeremy Robinson said: “We never expected these atomically thin materials could influence the ordering of all of the atoms in such a relatively large slab of gold.

“When heated, the metal reflows to form a porous structure and the gold atoms lock into registry with the atoms in the 2D layer on top.”

The light produced by the 2D semiconductors comes out as single light particles or photons that can transfer energy to each other through the gold layer.

NRL research physicist Andrew Yeats said: “We also discovered this combination can create a large number of quantum light sources in a, sort of, ready-made network.

“The alignment between atomic layers may facilitate energy transfer between the emitters through the gold framework that connects them.”

The researchers noted that the ability to control the piping of energy to a single-photon emitter remotely will make the technique effective for quantum technology.

This work was performed by NRL researchers by making use of a gold slab underneath the thin semiconductor layer.

Researchers will continue to investigate how the combinations of various materials and structures can create single-photon sources with unique properties to ensure secure communications.

In August 2017, NRL engineers restored an abandoned unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) autonomous mobile periscope system (AMPS) as a test asset to evaluate the capability of the navy’s periscope detection and discrimination (PDD) technology.