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Molecular electronics and tunable photonics for quantum technology

Final Activity Report Summary - QuTech (Molecular Electronics and Tunable Photonics for Quantum Technology)

This project was concerned with AtomChips. AtomChips are a novel experimental tool, first realized in 1999, in which two fields were integrated, namely the successful field of semi-conductor chips forming the base for the computer and other electronic devices and ultracold atoms, for which Nobel prizes of 1997 and 2001 were awarded, which constituted a controllable quantum system. The idea was to create chips based on quantum laws of nature, thereby enabling a novel insight into the theory of quantum mechanics as well as the development of new quantum technology such as ultra-high precision clocks, magnetic sensors and navigation systems, quantum communications, which were completely secure, and the quantum computer which could perform much faster than present-day computers.

The aim of the project was to integrate a third kind of technology within the AtomChip, namely molecular electronics. Although the AtomChip achieved miraculous firsts during the last 10 years, it became evident that using normal metallic conductors had disadvantages in the very delicate quantum world. Following several theoretical calculations by numerous groups worldwide, we set out to realise the first AtomChip device based on molecular conductors and specifically focussed on the carbon nano-tube (CNT). The CNT is a 10 nm wide conductor, self-assembled by the atoms themselves under appropriate conditions. It is therefore very pure in its chemical composition and geometrical structure. The main challenge when one attempts to integrate these tubes with conventional semi-conductor chips is that they need special conditions to grow, at times incompatible with the required conditions for other parts of the chip for which standard fabrication is used. Furthermore, it is hard to electrically connect to these conductors as the interface between normal metals and these tubes is complex. Finally, there is no good method for deterministically fixing the location and direction of this conductor.

We successfully simulated, designed and fabricated an AtomChip in which a CNT was integrated. The next step would be to actually test this new device with cold atoms.