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Metamaterials for Information- and Computer Technologies of the Future

by viakhnine last modified April 16, 2013 - 16:39

For critical advances in optical and quantum computing, a stable, efficient, nano-sized source of single photons is required. Diamond nano-crystals with embedded Nitrogen-Vacancy crystal-lattice defects (NV-centers) are recognized as strong candidates to fulfill this need. A promising way of increasing the rate of single-photon emission by NV-centers is to couple them with a hyperbolic metamaterial (HMM) which, due to its high photonic density of states, enhances the interaction of NV-centers with light. Nano-antennas and nano-waveguides will help to effectively collect the emitted photons, route them with nano-meter precision, and feed them into optical communication channels.

In January of 2013, Photonic Nano-Meta Technologies (PNMT), an R&D Company, has received funding from Skolkovo Innovation Center for implementation of the project Metamaterials for Information- and Computer Technologies of the Future. The project, whose timeframe spans two years, is also partially funded by Quantum Wave Fund - a venture capital firm specializing in breakthrough quantum technologies. The Scientific Leader of the project - Prof. V. Shalaev (Electrical and Computer Eng. Dept., Purdue University) - is a world-class expert and leader in the field of metamaterials, including their structural and functional design, fabrication, and applications.

One of the critical tasks in computer technologies today is achieving a greater (desirably, by a factor of 100 or more) processor clock speeds, while carrying out highly parallel computations. The accomplishment of these goals is expected to arise from implementation of new optical technologies and quantum algorithms. One of the main challenges hindering progress in this field is the lack of an efficient, stable source of high-quality single photons and of nano-structures, capable of controlling the quantum dynamics of photons.

The main goal of PNMT is to develop a nano-scale, broad-band single-photon source through synergistic use of nano-diamonds, containing NV-centers (crystal lattice defects formed by a substitutional Nitrogen atom and an adjacent Vacancy), and nano-structured hyperbolic metamaterials (HMM).

HMM are capable of accelerating the process of light-absorption by nano-diamonds as well as the process of emission of single photons by them. Combining nano-diamonds with metamaterials will allow us to address the urgent technological need for efficient single-photon sources that can be integrated into the chips of optical and quantum computers.

The technology of producing an effective single-photon source is based on the standard fabrication techniques and materials used in the production of computer microchips. Basic elements of such a photon source are: an optical hyperbolic metamaterial; a diamond nano-crystal, containing an NV-center; nano-antennas; and nano-waveguides.

NV-centers in diamond are recognized as the preferred sources of single photons because of the high stability of diamond itself and because of the ability of NV-centers to emit single photons at room temperature. However, they have certain shortcomings as well. Namely, the rate of light emission by NV-centers is not sufficiently high to fulfill the technological requirements for photon sources of the next-generation computers. One of the ways of resolving this problem is, as mentioned above, to employ hyperbolic metamaterials in order to enhance the interaction of light with NV-centers.

HMM are nano-structured systems consisting of alternating nano-layers made of materials with different optical properties, for example, a metal and a dielectric. The number of such pairs of layers can vary from a few to a few tens. An important feature of HMM is that they possess a high photonic density of states, resulting from the hyperbolic shape of the dependence of photon wavenumber, k, on the frequency of the photon, . Enhanced photonic density of states means that an excited emitter of light, e.g. an NV-center, has an increased number of channels to which a photon can be emitted and, because of that, the emission occurs faster.

The role of nano-antennas and nano-waveguides is to enable effective collection of the emitted photons, routing them with nanometer precision, and feeding them into optical communication channels.

The scientific and engineering research within the framework of this project is carried out in collaboration with Lebedev Physical Institute (Moscow, Russia), Prokhorov General Physics Institute (Moscow, Russia), Institute for Spectroscopy of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow, Russia), Russian Quantum Center (Skolkovo, Moscow Region, Russia), Nano-Meta Technologies, Inc. (West Lafayette, IN, USA), and Purdue University (West Lafayette, IN, USA).

PNMT invites partnerships with Organizations and R&D Units and Divisions interested in applications of optical metamaterials, nano-antennas and nano-waveguides, and, more generally, in optical and quantum technologies.

Direct your enquiries to: Andrey Smolyaninov, President, PNMT.