Solid State Superatoms

Lead Research Organisation: Cardiff University
Department Name: School of Physics and Astronomy


The modern digital world relies on classical two-level systems - binary bits. A major theme of current physics research is the development of their quantum equivalent "qubits" - isolated two-level quantum systems, for applications in computing, sensing, measurement and communication. A logical quantum bit may be encoded using the physical states of an ensemble of many individual atoms. A powerful way to carry out such a collective encoding is to exploit highly excited electronic states, known as Rydberg states that have strong long-range interactions with neighbouring atoms. So far, this method has been demonstrated in a laser-cooled atomic gas, but not in the solid state.

We propose to use atom-like electronic states known as excitons, in a semiconducting signal. Excitons couple to light and can be excited to a Rydberg state, where their wavefunction can encapsulate billions of lattice sites. Using methods from solid state physics (strain engineering) and atomic physics (microwave control), we aim to isolate collective solid state two-level systems (superatoms), and prove their existence using the quantum properties of the light they emit. Finally we plan to exploit the translational symmetry of the bulk crystal environment to create tailored arrays of superatoms.


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