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Diamond membrane devices for efficient coupling to vacancy centres

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  • Full or part time
    Dr Michael Strain
  • Application Deadline
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About This PhD Project

Project Description

Start date: October 2017
Duration: 3 years

Important Information: This studentship will benefit from and contribute to a wider project supported by the EPSRC UK Quantum Technology Hub in Networked Quantum Information Technologies (NQIT:, which involves multiple academic and industry partners. The NQIT programme is working towards building a quantum computer demonstrator, the Q20:20 engine, which demonstrates a networked, hybrid light-matter approach to quantum information processing.

Background: Synthetic diamond has previously found major applications in drilling and cutting tools, heat-sink technology for high power electronics, and optics for lasers and harsh environmental conditions. Recent advances in the manufacturing methods to produce single-crystal diamond have enabled materials with ultra-high purity and low optical losses. This in turn has facilitated the production of integrated optical devices in diamond for the first time (1) .

In addition to its large bandgap and wide transparency range, diamond provides an ideal host matrix for a range of crystal defect centres. For example, Nitrogen and Silicon Vacancy (NV, SiV) colour centres have the potential to act as solid-state nodes for light matter interaction that can be harnessed in quantum optics systems. Solid-state nodes are mechanically stable, have the potential for scaling and can be integrated with standard optical devices on-chip for multiplexing and processing.

Currently, single crystal diamond is only available in small pieces with areas in the order of mm2. This makes the fabrication of scalable integrated optical devices a challenging task (2) . In particular, the efficiency of coupling between optical modes and defect centre based qubits is crucial to the performance of solid state diamond quantum systems.

Project objective: This project will develop optical technologies based on the fabrication of ultra-thin diamond membranes for quantum optical applications. Bulk single-crystal diamond will be processed, using photolithography and plasma etching, into membrane devices only a few hundred nanometres thick. Resonators, waveguides and nano-features will be etched into these diamond films to enhance optical coupling to the native defect centres.

The project will investigate two complementary routes for coupling to defect centres in diamond membranes. The first method involves the fabrication of nano-pillars in thin film diamond to guide optical modes and project them vertically from the membrane surface. The second method requires the micro-assembly of nanoscale pieces of diamond material (nano-diamonds), with embedded defects, onto resonant cavities in guided wave or free-space configurations.

The student will undertake numerical simulation, micro-fabrication and optical characterisation of the diamond optical devices. They will have access to state-of-the-art cleanroom fabrication facilities and optical laboratories for the creation and measurement of these cutting edge photonic components.

Training: In addition to the University of Strathclyde’s Postgraduate Certificate in Researcher Professional Development, which includes transferrable skills training, all our students are enrolled in the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance (SUPA) Graduate School for subject specific training. Furthermore, students will enjoy access to and receive appropriate training for the use of any required equipment in the photonics and cleanroom facilities at the Technology and Innovation Centre.

Institute of Photonics
The Institute of Photonics (IoP), established in 1996, is a commercially-oriented research unit, part of the Department of Physics, University of Strathclyde. The Institute’s key objective is to bridge the gap between academic research and industrial applications and development in the area of photonics. The offices, laboratories, and cleanrooms of the IoP are located in Strathclyde’s new Technology & Innovation Centre in Glasgow City Centre. Researchers at the IoP are active in a broad range of photonics fields under the areas of Photonic Materials & Devices, Laser Engineering, and Neurophotonics.

(1) Y. Zhang, L. McKnight, Z. Tian, S. Calvez, E. Gu, and M. D. Dawson, “Large cross-section edge-coupled diamond waveguides,” Diam. Relat. Mater., vol. 20, no. 4, pp. 564–567, Apr. 2011.
(2) C. L. Lee, M. D. Dawson, and E. Gu, “Diamond double-sided micro-lenses and reflection gratings,” Opt. Mater., vol. 32, no. 9, pp. 1123–1129, Jul. 2010.

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