Synopsis: Exciting Vibrations

The state of excited electrons in a diamond-crystal defect can be controlled using mechanical waves.
Synopsis figure
D. A. Golter et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. (2016)

Shine a laser on a nitrogen-vacancy (NV) center—an atomic defect in a piece of diamond consisting of a vacancy (V) next to a nitrogen (N) impurity—and its unpaired electrons jump into an excited state. Andrew Golter and Thein Oo from the University of Oregon, Eugene, and colleagues have shown that these electrons can also be excited using mechanical waves. In this case, the energy of the jump experienced by the electrons can be controlled by tuning the frequency of the mechanical waves as well as that of the incident laser. The authors suggest that mechanical vibrations could be an effective way to control the quantum energy state of electrons in chip-based networks of qubits.

The researchers took a diamond crystal containing a single NV center and built a tiny electrical speaker on the crystal’s surface. By oscillating the speaker, they induced mechanical vibrations in the diamond that traveled along its surface, much like waves on the ocean. As the waves passed over the diamond, they slightly deformed the crystal lattice, changing the spacing and arrangement of atoms around the NV center. When the frequency of the vibrational waves was correctly tuned, the electrons in the NV center absorbed energy from the mechanical waves, as well as from an applied laser, and switched to a different quantum energy state. The authors were able to observe the change in quantum state via photons emitted when the NV center returned to its ground state.

This research is published in Physical Review Letters.

–Katherine Wright


Features

More Features »

Announcements

More Announcements »

Subject Areas

Quantum PhysicsMechanics

Previous Synopsis

Condensed Matter Physics

Electron–Phonon Affair Comes to Light

Read More »

Next Synopsis

Particles and Fields

Explaining a 750 GeV Bump

Read More »

Related Articles

Focus: <i>Video</i>—Tunable Origami
Mechanics

Focus: Video—Tunable Origami

A folding pattern produces a metamaterial with properties that can be tuned over a wide range. Read More »

Synopsis: Face Recognition with Ghost Imaging
Quantum Physics

Synopsis: Face Recognition with Ghost Imaging

Using a variation of a technique known as ghost imaging, researchers demonstrate a face recognition protocol that works without complex image analysis algorithms. Read More »

Synopsis: Entangled Photon Source Ticks All Boxes
Quantum Physics

Synopsis: Entangled Photon Source Ticks All Boxes

A quantum-dot-based device combines all of the attributes necessary for producing a reliable source of entangled photons for quantum information applications.  Read More »

More Articles