Prospects for new 2D materials in quantum technologies improve with half-light, half-matter polaritons


Researchers have shown how unusual quasiparticles known as polaritons can be created in two-dimensional materials that are only a few atoms thick.

These polaritons can be used to improve the unique optical properties of the material with potential for future quantum information processing technologies.

A new study published in Nature Communications, led by Professor Alexander Tartakovskii in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, illustrates how the coherence – a form of information encoding lying at the heart of quantum information processing – can be preserved, manipulated and optically measured in materials that are only a few atoms thick.

The new approach takes advantage of 2D materials embedded inside optical microcavities – tiny photonic structures that trap light within them. The strict confinement of the light creates an effect similar to light being repeatedly reflected between two mirrors, forcing it to interact strongly with the embedded 2D material.

This interaction creates unique quasiparticles called polaritons, which are partly made of matter in the 2D material and partly of light trapped in the cavity. The researchers found that the polaritons are much better carriers of coherence, potentially opening the door to new approaches in quantum information processing.

Authors on the paper also included PhD student Tom Lyons, and former PhD student and postdoctoral researcher Scott Dufferwiel, who both completed their undergraduate physics degrees at the University of Sheffield.

They worked alongside another PhD student, Alessandro Catanzaro, and Professor Maurice Skolnick and Dr Dmitry Krizhanovskii from our Low Dimensional Structures and Devices research group.