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Coherent dynamics of a hybrid quantum spin-mechanical oscillator system


A fully functional quantum computer must contain at least two important components: a quantum memory for storing and manipulating quantum information and a quantum data bus to securely transfer information between quantum memories. Typically, a quantum memory is composed of a matter system, such as an atom or an electron spin, due to their prolonged quantum coherence. Alternatively, a quantum data bus is typically composed of some propagating degree of freedom, such as a photon, which can retain quantum information over long distances. Therefore, a quantum computer will likely be a hybrid quantum device, consisting of two or more disparate quantum systems. However, there must be a reliable and controllable quantum interface between the memory and bus in order to faithfully interconvert quantum information. The current engineering challenge for quantum computers is scaling the device to large numbers of controllable quantum systems, which will ultimately depend on the choice of the quantum elements and interfaces utilized in the device. In this thesis, we present and characterize a hybrid quantum device comprised of single nitrogen-vacancy (NV) centers embedded in a high quality factor diamond mechanical oscillator. The electron spin of the NV center is a leading candidate for the realization of a quantum memory due to its exceptional quantum coherence times. On the other hand, mechanical oscillators are highly sensitive to a wide variety of external forces, and have the potential to serve as a long-range quantum bus between quantum systems of disparate energy scales. These two elements are interfaced through crystal strain generated by vibrations of the mechanical oscillator. Importantly, a strain interface allows for a scalable architecture, and furthermore, opens the door to integration into a larger quantum network through coupling to an optical interface.

There are a few important engineering challenges associated with this device. First, there have been no previous demonstrations of a strain-mediated spin-mechanical interface and hence the system is largely uncharacterized. Second, fabricating high quality diamond mechanical oscillators is difficult due to the robust and chemically inert nature of diamond. Finally, engineering highly coherent NV centers with a coherent optical interface in nanostructured diamond remains an outstanding challenge. In this thesis, we theoretically and experimentally address each of these challenges, and show that with future improvements, this device is suitable for future quantum-enabled applications. First, we theoretically and experimentally demonstrate a dynamic, strain-mediated coupling between the spin and orbital degrees of freedom of the NV center and the driven mechanical motion of a single-crystal diamond cantilever. We employ Ramsey interferometry to demonstrate coherent, mechanical driving of the NV spin evolution. Using this interferometry technique, we present the first demonstration of nanoscale strain imaging, and quantitatively characterize the previously unknown spin-strain coupling constants. Next, we use the driven motion of the cantilever to perform deterministic control of the frequency and polarization dependence of the optical transitions of the NV center. Importantly, this experiment constitutes the first demonstration of on-chip control of both the frequency and polarization state of a single photon produced by a quantum emitter. In the final experiment, we use mechanical driving to engineer a series of spin ``clock" states and demonstrate a significant increase in the spin coherence time of the NV center. We conclude this thesis with a theoretical discussion of prospective applications for this device, including generation of non-classical mechanical states and spin-spin entanglement, as well as an evaluation of the current limitations of our devices, including a possible avenues for improvement to reach the regime of strong spin-phonon coupling.

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