Optically addressable molecular spins for quantum information processing

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Science  11 Dec 2020:
Vol. 370, Issue 6522, pp. 1309-1312
DOI: 10.1126/science.abb9352

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Molecular qubits that respond to light

Spins in solid-state systems such as quantum dots and defect centers in diamond can easily be controlled by light for use in quantum information processing. More challenging is tuning their properties and making large arrays, something that can be done more easily with spins in molecules. Bayliss et al. combined the advantages of the two approaches by designing and characterizing three related molecular species that are optically addressable. The molecules consist of a central chromium ion surrounded by organic ligands, and their spin and optical properties can be tailored by simply changing the positions of methyl groups on the ligands.

Science, this issue p. 1309


Spin-bearing molecules are promising building blocks for quantum technologies as they can be chemically tuned, assembled into scalable arrays, and readily incorporated into diverse device architectures. In molecular systems, optically addressing ground-state spins would enable a wide range of applications in quantum information science, as has been demonstrated for solid-state defects. However, this important functionality has remained elusive for molecules. Here, we demonstrate such optical addressability in a series of synthesized organometallic, chromium(IV) molecules. These compounds display a ground-state spin that can be initialized and read out using light and coherently manipulated with microwaves. In addition, through atomistic modification of the molecular structure, we vary the spin and optical properties of these compounds, indicating promise for designer quantum systems synthesized from the bottom-up.

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