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Interfacing Defect Qubits with Nanophotonics in Silicon Carbide


Defect based qubit systems like the nitrogen vacancy center in diamond have recently emerged as promising candidates for quantum technologies due to their combination of long coherence times, room temperature operation, and robust optical interface. In order to realize many of their proposed applications, defect qubits must be incorporated into scalable devices architectures consisting of photonic, mechanical, or electrical degrees of freedom. Despite much recent progress, many challenges remain for diamond growth and device fabrication. As an alternate approach, we engaged in a search for nitrogen vacancy center analogues in alternative materials with the hope of obtaining a greater degree of control over defect and material properties. Ultimately, we discovered that divacancy-related point defects in all three of the most common forms of silicon carbide- termed 4H, 6H, and 3C- act as analogues to the nitrogen vacancy center in diamond. We chose to focus our research primarily on defects in 3C silicon carbide (termed 'Ky5' defects) because of its availability as a single crystal heteroepitaxial thin film grown on silicon, an advantage that greatly facilitates the fabrication of functional devices. We characterized the spin and optical properties of Ky5 defects in thin film geometries and observed many similarities to the nitrogen vacancy center. We performed the first measurements of spin dynamics in 3C silicon carbide and demonstrate coherent control of defect spins up to room temperature and observe coherence times of up to 22 microseconds.

To demonstrate their use in real devices, we designed, fabricated, and characterized photonic crystal cavities in 3C silicon carbide thin films with mode volumes of less than (lambda/n)^3 and Q's as high as 1,500 with integrated Ky5 defects. Additionally, we performed simulations and analysis of the fabricated structures using observed structural imperfections to determine that the Q's are likely limited primarily by the non-vertical structure sidewall angle. Despite the modest Q's of these structures, they can be utilized to generate large local field intensities to enhance optical interactions with Ky5 qubit states within the cavities. We accomplish this by performing cavity enhanced photoluminescence excitation spectroscopy on cavity modes tuned to the zero phonon line of the defects and observe large (as high as 30 times) increases in the luminescence and optically detected magnetic resonance signals originating from the defect states and approximately 2x faster rates of ground state spin initialization. In addition, we use these techniques to probe the photoluminescence dynamics of the Ky5 defects' optical pumping cycle, perform excitation wavelength dependent studies of spin and spectral inhomogeneity, and use the small mode volume and narrowband photoluminescence enhancements of the cavities to observe spectrally distinct subensembles of defects with linewidths as narrow as 25 GHz within the inhomogeneously broadened zero phonon line. Although much is still unknown regarding the properties of these defects, they show great promise as a candidate system for defect qubit based quantum devices and technologies.

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