Quantum technology capital: Multi-species single-ion implantation

Lead Research Organisation: University of Surrey
Department Name: ATI Electronics


The exploitation of single atoms for Quantum Technologies (QT) is most advanced for single-atom and single-ion electromagnetic traps in vacuum. Dopants in solids provide a natural form of trapping, as the impurity is held in place by the electromagnetic fields of the host solid around it, but on a length scale orders of magnitude smaller. Some solids, such as silicon can be made with an astonishing purity of 1 part per 100,000,000,000. This is so pure that nano-scale devices can be expected to have zero unintentional impurities and, if the doping is carefully controlled, a device can be constructed with a single, solitary impurity atom opening up a wealth of possibilities for solid state QT. This brings new challenges in engineering the local environment, but they are ideal objects for robust, reproducable QT applications. Single dopants provide 'qubits' of quantum information for clocks, sensors and computation, and non- classical light sources for quantum key distribution systems, quantum repeaters, quantum lithography, multivalent logic and local sensing.

The first electronic observation of a single impurity in a semiconductor was made in a MOSFET device cooled to about 30K - the single, naturally occurring, unidentified bistable impurity close to the conduction channel produced random telegraph noise. Single electron transistor channels now allow specific nearby dopants to be identified by their effect on the electrical characteristics.

In some cases single impurities may be incorporated with nanometre precision using Scanning Tunnelling Microscope tips, but a much greater variety could, in principle, be achieved with ion implantation. Ion implantation is a microelectronic industry standard technique, and Surrey University houses the UK National Ion Beam Centre. Although implantation with a lateral accuracy of about 20 nm has been reported, it has only previously been possible with lithographically produced masks. This has already been used to create active devices that involve two phosphorus atoms in silicon close enough for their spins to exchange in a flip-flop interaction, but the functionality of this device was restricted by the limited accuracy of the implantation technique, and it has not been reproduced. A much more scalable, reproducible technology would be to use highly focused ion beams, but this requires a significant advancement in implantation tools.

This proposal is to install the world's first single ion implantation tool with 20nm lateral beam focus, with the ability to implant any species from gas or solid source. The tool will serve the UK need for an open access user facility for academia and industry in QTs.

Using this tool, we will enable implantation of single bismuth atoms in silicon, single nitrogen atoms in diamond, single erbium atoms in sapphire, and single manganese atoms in GaAs. Each of these exemplifies a different QT platform and covers applications from magnetometry to imaging, computation and single photon emission. We will characterize and image the single atom devices, either via collaboration with key partners (in the case of diamond NV) or in house (in the case of Bi in Si).

In the case of the Si:Bi (and other silicon shallow impurities) we will install a world leading near-field imaging system using terahertz frequency light. This will take advantage of Surrey's strategic partnership with the National Physical Laboratory (NPL).

Planned Impact

Who will benefit from the capital investment?

The potential of quantum technologies (QTs) to impact across a breadth of sectors is recognised at the highest levels of the UK Government. This has lead to the formation of the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme and a National Strategy for Quantum Technologies established following substantial (£270M) financial investment being made available. The technologies that are expected to emerge from this investment include both short-term (e.g. compact UK-sourced atomic clocks) through to medium-term advanced in medical diagnostics, and longer-term quantum processors.

Advances in these areas, and others targeted by the National Strategy, will have an impact on everyone on the individual level (e.g. improved healthcare), on the commercial level (e.g. improved system performance and productivity), well as globally (e.g. enhanced communications and monitoring).

The capital investment proposed within will play a role in realising these impacts through providing globally-leading research programmes with the capability to study and develop the highly-advanced quantum systems required at the heart of QT devices. The route we propose to achieve this is via a highly-focused ion beam doping tool that performs single ion implantation. This solution has been chosen taking into consideration the requirement for future QTs to be commercial viable in terms of scale-up and fabrication. As a result of this industry will benefit from this investment, as the devices it enables will have a viable route to manufacture.

Even at the early stages of the technology development a number of industrial companies are supporting this work. These include those with leading basic research programmes in the area of quantum technologies: Hitachi Europe, Element Six (UK) and NTT (Japan) thus demonstrating industrial interest. Our proposal is also strongly supported by the UK National Physical Laboratory (NPL), members of the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme, and will benefit the Quantum Metrology Institute at NPL, and its wider user community.

Our proposed capital investment is directly aligned with the UK National Strategy (see Pathways to Impact). As part of those involve in defining this, the funding bodies and stakeholders that they represent will benefit from the capability we will provide and research it enables. The outcomes of this investment and the research it serves will provide direct support for future research programme prioritisation relating to these challenges. As users develop new material systems and technologies, other funders of research in different disciplinary areas will also benefit as the outcomes are translated into applications elsewhere (e.g. in bio/medical research for enhanced diagnostics).

The area of our proposed work represents a unique example where the interplay of electronic, optical, magnetic and quantum effects will be determined via the choice of dopant ion species and ability of the engineering to deliver it as intended. It therefore offers a wealth of training opportunities and is ideally suited for providing a series of learning resources in which these properties may be introduced to students and their interactions explained. This can be applied from a machine technology level (high-vacuum and vibration control) right through to fundamental quantum mechanical level (qubit creation and control). We will therefore design and make available learning resources, working with the QT training programmes in existence and to be created in parallel to this call.

The realisation of the materials, effects, and initial devices envisaged within the programme will be transformational on the field in the short term setting the agenda internationally. On a longer timescale as more sophisticated quantum devices are realised and move into production the impact on quality of life, manufacturing, and the economy will be dramatic.


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Cassidy N (2020) Single Ion Implantation of Bismuth in physica status solidi (a)

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Günes O (2019) Optical and electrical properties of alkaline-doped and As-alloyed amorphous selenium films in Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Electronics

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Murdin B (2021) Error Rates in Deterministic Ion Implantation for Qubit Arrays in physica status solidi (b)

Description A new tool specifically designed to deliver deterministic doping of materials with single ions has been built and tested. Scientific work is ongoing developing the use of the tool and has been reported in peer-reviewed journals. Further development work is underway (at University of Surrey) on the development of sources for the equipment.
Exploitation Route The tool has been established as a facility within the National Ion Beam Centre with access available to UK an international researchers.
Sectors Electronics,Other

Description The development of this tool has informed the building a second generation of tools which are now available as a commercial product (the Q-One) from the UK company Ionoptika.
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Electronics,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
Impact Types Economic

Description UK Representative at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Technical Meeting on Ion Beam-Induced Spatio-temporal Structural Evolution of Matter: Towards New Quantum Technologies, 23 - 27 May 2016 Torino, Italy
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
Description (RADIATE) - Research And Development with Ion Beams - Advancing Technology in Europe
Amount € 9,999,669 (EUR)
Funding ID 824096 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 01/2019 
End 06/2023
Description EngD Studentship Nathan Cassidy
Amount £60,000 (GBP)
Organisation Ionoptika 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2016 
End 09/2020
Description EngD Studentship Nathan Cassidy
Amount £100,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of Surrey 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2016 
End 09/2020
Description Nanoscale Advanced Materials Engineering
Amount £7,671,801 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/V001914/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2021 
End 03/2026
Description Nanoscale quantum doping: Towards Qubit Engineering on Demand
Amount £9,605 (GBP)
Organisation Manchester University 
Sector Academic/University
Country United States
Start 08/2019 
End 08/2020
Description Platform for Nanoscale Advanced Materials Engineering (P-NAME)
Amount £702,172 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/R025576/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2018 
End 09/2020
Description RAISIN - QT Network for Single-ion Implantation Technologies and Science
Amount £444,301 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/W027070/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2022 
End 02/2025
Description UK National Ion Beam Centre
Amount £8,836,433 (GBP)
Funding ID NS/A000059/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2017 
End 12/2021
Title Deterministic and/or single ion Implantation 
Description Two new single ion deterministic implanters have been installed at the UK National Ion Beam Centre and are available for external users to use as part of their R&D programmes into solid state quantum technology devices. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2021 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Several users from the Ion Beam Centre community have made access to this equipment 
Description Ionoptika (SIMPLE) 
Organisation Ionoptika
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Provision of scientific input and users requirements for the development of a new instrument for realising quantum technologies.
Collaborator Contribution Provision of technical input, design and building of a new instrument for realising quantum technologies.
Impact Provision of an EnD studentship hosted at the partner. The collaboration is multidisciplinary involving materials scientists, engineers and physicists.
Start Year 2014
Description NPL SNOM collaboration 
Organisation National Physical Laboratory
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The project provides capital investment for a Scanning Near Field Optical Microscopy (SNOM) instrument with cryogenic capability. The instrument is due for installation in June 2018. We have jointly (with NPL) funded an EPSRC iCASE PhD student (Jessica Smith) started 1/10/17.
Collaborator Contribution NPL have jointly funded the EPSRC iCASE PhD student and have provided access to existing room temperature SNOM at NPL for training of the student.
Impact The student started less than 6 months ago and the main capital investment instrument has not yet arrived.
Start Year 2017
Description Neaspec collaboration 
Organisation Neaspec GmbH
Country Germany 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We are purchasing a cryogenic Scanning Near-field Optical Microscope (SNOM) from Neaspec. List price €800,000. At the same time, we will develop integration of new laser sources for extension of the spectral coverage further into the far-infrared.
Collaborator Contribution Neaspec have provided a discount of €75,000 in return for availability for customer inspection.
Impact The instrument was delivered in Oct 2018, and the development is ongoing.
Start Year 2016
Description Media Interest SIMPLE announcement 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Coverage of major capital investment by EPSRC in Quantum Technologies in 'The Engineer'.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.theengineer.co.uk/3m-quantum-technology-grant-for-surrey-university/
Description UK National Ion Beam Centre open day 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Open Day to bring together existing, new and prospective users of the UK National Ion Beam Centre. Opportunity to talk to people about the facilities availabel and abou th enew facilities coming on line as a result of some of the capital equipment grants awarded by EPSRC.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017