The intricately shaped device prepared by Paul Barclay and his team of scientists is so small it can only be seen with the help of the microscope. But their diamond micro-disk could lead to massive improvements in computing, telecommunications, and other professions. Paul Barclay and his research team are from the University of Calgary's Institute for Quantum Science and Technology (IQST) and the National Institute of Nano-technology (NINT), have completed the first ever nano-sized optical resonator or optical cavity from an only crystal of diamond that is also a powered resonator. The group also calculated, in the coupling of light and mechanical activity in the device, the high-frequency, long-term mechanical vibrations produced by the energy of light stuck and bouncing inside the diamond micro-disk optical resonator.
Associate professor of physics and astronomy and Alberta Innovates Scholar in Quantum Nanotechnology in the Faculty of Science, Paul Barclay says, "Diamond opto-mechanical devices suggest a platform to study the quantum behavior of tiny objects. These devices also have numerous potential uses, including state-of-the-art detecting, technology for changing the color of light, and quantum information and computing technologies."
The group's work is printed in the peer-revised journal Optic, "Single-Crystal Diamond Low-Dissipation Cavity Opto-mechanics."
Quantum Nano-Photonics includes developing micro and nano-scale, about hundred times smaller than the width of a human hair, circuits for operating light. Instead of microcircuits in which electricity is directed by wires, found in computers, cell phones and in many other telecommunication technologies. Nano-photonics involves conducting light through wires. It is like fiber optic technology, but at a much minor and potentially more difficult scale, letting information to be conveyed more closely and more efficiently.
Nano-photonic technology also is a benefit to scientists discovering new systems of quantum physics, the nature of energy and matter on the atomic and subatomic scale.
Barclay says, "The capability to trap light in nano-scale sizes in an optical resonator generates high electromagnetic strength from small amounts of light and increases light-matter interactions that are normally nearly impossible to study."
Barclay's team used a diamond to construct the micro-disk, which seems like an atomic-sized hockey puck (the optical resonator) maintained by a very tiny hourglass-shaped stake in the center. The team used light to shake the disk to a gigahertz frequency, the frequency used in CPUs and cell phone communication. Barclay says, "It indicates that diamond has way more potential as a material for building mechanical oscillators at this scale. Imagine vibrating a tuning fork made of diamond. It is going to vibrate at a very high frequency for a really long period. This also helps us calculate these faint quantum effects."
Barclay's Ph.D. students, counting Matthew Mitchell and Behzad Khanaliloo, lead writers on the paper, invented the micro-disk from commercially accessible synthetic, single-crystal diamond chips. The students also planned, designed and built the system to calculate the device's optical and mechanical properties. The team, which involved doctoral student David Lake, master's student Tamiko Masuda and post-doctoral scholar J.P. Hadden, used facilities at the National Institute for Nano-Technology (NINT) and the University of Alberta's nano FAB.
Matthew Mitchell says, "By fundamentally developing a new nano-fabrication method for single-crystal diamond, we have established a device that is pushing the state of the art in cavity opto-mechanics. It holds great potential for understanding an on-chip platform to control the contact of light, vibrations and electrons."
Behzad Khanalioo says: "We are motivated about using these devices for inventing ways to make connections for quantum computers. Just constructing the device, within the nano-photonics research community, is an achievement."
Barclay says. "I would say we are one of the best teams in the world, thanks to the effort of the students, in making optical investigations to get light into and out of these devices."