Controlled generation of luminescent centres in hBN via irradiation engineering with oxygen atoms (red). The defect VNCB is shown in the front which consists of a nitrogen vacancy next to a carbon atom (black) on a boron site. In the back, a boron vacancy VB is shown.

New insights on quantum emitters in two-dimensional materials

Thursday 18 Feb 21

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Nicolas Stenger
Associate Professor
DTU Fotonik
+45 45 25 63 79

Researchers from DTU Fotonik have published an important paper in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances. 
In this article, PhD-student Moritz Fischer, first author of the paper,  Associate Professor Nicolas Stenger, corresponding author, answer four questions about why it is important.

Atomic bombardment combined with atomistic calculations shines a light on the microscopic origin of quantum emitters in the 2D material hexagonal boron nitride. Shooting individual oxygen atoms on hexagonal boron nitride generates quantum emitters. We compare the experimental data with atomistic calculations from our colleagues at DTU Physics and the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf. This new combination of experiments and theory allowed us to provide the mechanism of how these quantum emitters are formed (generation mechanism) and help us to identify the most likely microscopic origins.

What are the new insights you have achieved? 

The mechanism of how quantum emitters in hexagonal boron nitride are formed is poorly understood. In our process, we can precisely tune the speed and the number of oxygen atoms hitting the target. By doing so, we can control the amount of defects that act as localized luminescent centres. Furthermore, tuning the speed and the number of oxygen atoms allows us to understand the mechanism of how these luminescent centres are formed and provide their most likely microscopic origin. 

What do you think is most exciting about this paper? 

The novel combination of experiments and atomistic simulations. It demonstrates that collaborations of experts from different research fields can provide deeper knowledge about quantum emitters.

"The research on quantum emitters is essential since it is one of the cornerstones of quantum technology "

How can your research be used for the benefit of society? 

The research on quantum emitters is essential since it is one of the cornerstones of quantum technology which has the potential to revolutionize communication technologies. Quantum computing and secure communication are based on single-photon emitters. The two-dimensional material hexagonal boron nitride is an attractive candidate since its atomic thinness will allow more precise and efficient integration into optical circuits.

What is the next step? 

We will work on the site-selective generation of quantum emitters in hexagonal boron nitride. Achieving site-selectivity would allow to couple the quantum emitters efficiently to optical circuits.

Read the paper in Science Advances.

In collaboration with:

- The DTU Center for Nanostructured Graphene with DTU Physics (i.e. Jose m. Caridad, Sajid Ali , Kristian S. Thygesen, Lene Gammelgaard and Peter Bøggild).

- The Helmholtz Center, Dresden-Rossendorf in Germany (Sadegh Shahbazi, Madhi Ghorbani and Arkady V. Krasheninnikov).