Scientists show off nano-diamond optical switch

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Scientists show off nano-diamond optical switch
Nano manipulation of an artificial atom; source: ICFO

Quantum transistors one step closer.

Ground-breaking research has demonstrated that a nano-size diamond doped with nitrogen that can act as an ultrafast optical switch at room temperature. 

Researchers discovered a new way to control the nano-diamond with light which produces a response faster than 100ns, switching it to an on state with a green laser, and off with infrared illumination.

This method allowed researchers to switch the optical nano-diamond on and off at extremely high speeds, something they say demonstrates its robustness and viability for very fast information processing and quantum computer operations.

Photons are much faster in terms of dynamics than electrons, and also interact less with their environment. This feature makes a high degree of integration for smaller and denser devices possible, and also brings scientists closer to quantum operations.

However, until now, molecules used as optical transistors have required extremely low temperatures to work, making it difficult to apply them to quantum computing.

The discovery of room-temperature operable optical transistors paves the way for the development of integrated optical circuits, researchers say, and also quantum information processing for quantum computing.

The work, published in Nature Physics, was conducted by researchers Michael Gieselmann, Renaud Marty, F Javier Garcia de Abajo and Romain Quidant at the Institute of Photonic Sciences in Barcelona, Spain. 

Quantum computing promises faster, smaller and more efficient devices. Several research efforts are underway to solve the quantum riddle, including the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab Team project setup by Google, the United States NASA Ames Research Centre and the Universitites Space Research Association (USRA), which will host a 512-qubit quantum computer from D-Wave Systems.

The three organisations are investigating how quantum computing can advance machine learning, a creative problem that classical computers are not well suited for.

Google and Nasa Quantum AI Lab presentation.

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