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By drilling holes into a thin two-dimensional sheet of hexagonal boron nitride with a gallium-focused ion beam, University of Oregon scientists have created artificial atoms that generate single photons.

The artificial atoms -- which work in air and at room temperature -- may be a big step in efforts to develop all-optical quantum computing, said UO physicist Benjamín J. Alemán, principal investigator of a study published in the journal Nano Letters.

"Our work provides a source of single photons that could act as carriers of quantum information or as qubits. We've patterned these sources, creating as many as we want, where we want," said Alemán, a member of the UO's Material Science Institute and Center for Optical, Molecular, and Quantum Science. "We'd like to pattern these single photon emitters into circuits or networks on a microchip so they can talk to each other, or to other existing qubits, like solid-state spins or superconducting circuit qubits."

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Category: Science