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Engineering nitrogen-vacancy centres in diamond for quantum computing

Department of Materials

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Prof J Smith Applications accepted all year round Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Colour centres in diamond offer excellent prospects for the development of scalable solid state quantum computers. In recent years the combination of spin coherence and optical coherence in nitrogen-vacancy (NV) centres has resulted in a range of milestone demonstrations including local error correction and entanglement across a network large enough to demonstrate loophole-free violation of Bell’s inequality. The development of advanced devices using NV centres has however been limited by the inability to position high quality centres on-demand in a diamond crystal.
Over the past three years we have pioneered novel laser-writing methods for the fabrication of single NV centres that provides a solution to this problem. Laser writing allows NV centres to be created in diamond with a positioning accuracy of order 100 nm and with excellent coherence properties. The work offers a clear route to the realisation of chip-scale devices containing many thousands of qubits which could facilitate the first universal fault-tolerant quantum processors.
This project, based in the Departments of Materials and Engineering Science, University of Oxford, will focus on a critical element of the engineering of single NV centres using laser processing, namely the ability to perform local annealing with a laser to modify the crystal environment around a written NV centre and control its properties. Initial proof-of-concept experiments have shown that the basic idea works but a number of important questions remain regarding the degree of control that can be achieved. The goal of the project will be to answer these questions by performing systematic studies of the effect of local annealing on defect concentrations and local strain, plus the creation of multiple NV centres coupled by spin-spin interaction and the deletion of unwanted NV centres at a chosen site. The work will entail developing the laser writing methods, including the use of adaptive optics and control systems, and using laboratory tools for measuring the optical and spin properties of the defects. You will work within a team of researchers in Oxford in collaboration with researchers at the universities of Warwick, Cambridge and Strathclyde. The team forms part of the UK Quantum Technologies Hub in Networked Quantum Information Technologies (NQIT), providing a vibrant and interdisciplinary community spanning ten universities, with research into multiple hardware platforms plus theoretical and engineering efforts aimed at developing scalable quantum computers. The project is funded by full studentship associated with the quantum technology programme.

Individual applications will be considered as and when they are received and this position will be filled as soon as possible.

Funding Notes

This NQIT hub EPSRC-funded 3.5-year DPhil in Materials studentship will provide full fees and maintenance for a student with home fee status (this includes an EU student who has spent the previous three years (or more) in the UK undertaking undergraduate study). Candidates with EU fee status are eligible for a fees-only award, but would have to provide funding for their living costs from another source such as personal funds or a scholarship. The stipend will be £15,009 per year. Information on fee status can be found at


Keywords: Optics, photonics, quantum technologies, diamond, quantum computing, laser processing, University of Oxford.
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