Not so defective, after all: Demystifying advanced quantum materials

Sometimes, flaws are what makes a thing special.

That’s the case for a type of material called optical quantum emitters, which send out light in an exceptionally precise manner, one photon at a time, often due to tiny imperfections in a crystal’s structure.

The ability to emit light one photon at a time could allow optical quantum emitters to become the backbones of ultrafast computers, super high-resolution sensors and uncrackable long-range secure communication technologies.

Recently, buzz has been building about a newly discovered variety of quantum emitters consisting of two-dimensional materials (think flat sheets only as thick as a single molecule, similar to graphene). But there’s a hitch: No one truly understands the exact natures of the tiny flaws, called defects, that cause these two-di materials to become optical quantum emitters. And that’s been a major obstacle in obtaining these potentially useful materials.

This story continues on the College of Engineering’s site.