Quantum Information Storage for over 180 s Using Donor Spins in a 28Si “Semiconductor Vacuum”

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Science  08 Jun 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6086, pp. 1280-1283
DOI: 10.1126/science.1217635

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Extending Quantum Memory

Practical applications in quantum communication and quantum computation require the building blocks—quantum bits and quantum memory—to be sufficiently robust and long-lived to allow for manipulation and storage (see the Perspective by Boehme and McCarney). Steger et al. (p. 1280) demonstrate that the nuclear spins of 31P impurities in an almost isotopically pure sample of 28Si can have a coherence time of as long as 192 seconds at a temperature of ∼1.7 K. In diamond at room temperature, Maurer et al. (p. 1283) show that a spin-based qubit system comprised of an isotopic impurity (13C) in the vicinity of a color defect (a nitrogen-vacancy center) could be manipulated to have a coherence time exceeding one second. Such lifetimes promise to make spin-based architectures feasible building blocks for quantum information science.


A quantum computer requires systems that are isolated from their environment, but can be integrated into devices, and whose states can be measured with high accuracy. Nuclear spins in solids promise long coherence lifetimes, but they are difficult to initialize into known states and to detect with high sensitivity. We show how the distinctive optical properties of enriched 28Si enable the use of hyperfine-resolved optical transitions, as previously applied to great effect for isolated atoms and ions in vacuum. Together with efficient Auger photoionization, these resolved hyperfine transitions permit rapid nuclear hyperpolarization and electrical spin-readout. We combine these techniques to detect nuclear magnetic resonance from dilute 31P in the purest available sample of 28Si, at concentrations inaccessible to conventional measurements, measuring a solid-state coherence time of over 180 seconds.

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