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Quantum Optical Control of Single Spins in Diamond

  • Author(s): Yale, Christopher Gordon
  • Advisor(s): Awschalom, David D.
  • et al.

The nitrogen-vacancy (NV) center in diamond has garnered great interest over the past decade as its electronic spin shows promise as a quantum bit (qubit) and nanoscale sensor. Consisting of a substitutional nitrogen adjacent to a vacant site within the carbon lattice of diamond, this defect exhibits millisecond-long spin coherence times extending beyond room temperature, spin-dependent optical addressability, coupling to intrinsic and nearby nuclear spins, and it can be controlled and manipulated through electrical, magnetic, and optical means. In particular, at cryogenic temperatures (T < 25 K), the NV center's excited state becomes sharp and optically resolvable, providing a solid-state quantum optical testbed. In this thesis, I describe several experiments that explore this quantum optical interface to facilitate the development of a photonic network of single spins linked and controlled by light. We begin by exploring how electric fields tune the orbital levels within the NV center through the DC Stark effect, finding a surprising photo-induced field that aids in the ability to tune multiple NV centers' optical transitions to degeneracy. We then develop techniques to fully control the spin state of the NV center by coupling through a lambda system, an energy configuration consisting of two lower levels coupled to one of higher energy. When a lambda system is optically driven, the spin becomes trapped in a dark state, or the eigenstate of the system that is not coupled to the light fields through destructive interference, forming the basis for the various types of control demonstrated. We demonstrate arbitrary-basis initialization and readout of the spin state through coherent population trapping, as well as the ability to rotate about any arbitrary basis through stimulated Raman transitions. Combining these techniques, we measure the NV center's spin coherence through a completely optical measurement. We then extend these lambda system techniques to adiabatically move the dark state in trajectories around the Bloch sphere. Such trajectories accumulate a quantum mechanical phase that depends only on the geometry of the path enclosed, not on the energetics or time of the interaction. We characterize the interaction, measure this phase, known as Berry phase, and explore the limits of its control and resilience to noise. Finally, we demonstrate another all-optical control technique that uses strong ultrafast pulses of light to transfer the spin between the ground and excited states, deriving spin manipulation from the excited state dynamics. This technique also provides time-resolved spectroscopy of the excited state and its various decay and decoherence mechanisms. These experiments advance the progress toward the development of photonic networks coupling and controlling defects through light-matter interactions.

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