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Quantum Nano-photonics – the science and technology of new sources of light

Project Description

Statement of Research

Transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) are optically active, semiconducting layered materials (LMs) which can be exfoliated down to monolayers or stacked in heterostructures. Their intrinsic properties make them not only interesting for fundamental physics studies but also for technological applications. Quantum light emitters have been observed in atomically thin layers of transition metal dichalcogenides [see e.g. 2,3]. Due to their dimensionality, they operate at the fundamental limit of single-layer thickness, promising high photon emission rate and enabling integration with conventional silicon technology such as coupling to waveguides[1]. Furthermore, two-level systems in TMDs can be created deterministically [2] and single photons can be generated by electroluminescence [3]. For these reasons, the identification of quantum emitters (QEs) in LMs has generated much excitement in the field of two-dimensional nano-photonics and quantum technologies [4].

However, the origin of single photon emitters in TMDs is still under discussion, and has been assigned to both defects and strain gradients. Also the dielectric environment could play a role. In order to use TMD-based quantum technology it is crucial to obtain an understanding of the origin of single photon emission in TMDs. This understanding can then be exploited for the development of scalable integrated quantum technology.

The aim of this project will be to use light-matter interactions to study layered materials for quantum technologies. The prospective candidate will work on advancing the fabrication technique to explore the potential of different layered materials and their heterostructures, to develop and fabricate TMD-based single photon emitter structures and to test and analyse them by means of spectroscopy and microscopy (e.g. Raman, TERS, PL, AFM, TEM). The aim is to clarify the origin of single photon emission in TMD-based heterostructures. This understanding can then be exploited for the development of scalable integrated quantum technology. The final goal of this PhD project will be to advance the integration of single photon emitters in photonic structures such as microcavities and waveguides.

The studentship is part of the UK’s Centre of Doctoral Training in Metamaterials (XM2) based in the Departments of Physics and Engineering on the Streatham Campus in Exeter. Our aim is to undertake world-leading research, while training scientists and engineers with the relevant research skills and knowledge, and professional attributes for industry and academia.


[1] P. Tonndorf, et al.,Nano Lett.17, 5446 (2017).
[2] C. Palacios-Berraquero, et al.,Nat. Commun.8, 12593 (2017).
[3] C. Palacios-Berraquero, et al.,Nat Commun.7, 12978 (2016).
[4] X. Liu and M. C. Hersam, Nature Reviews Materials (2019).

How good is research at University of Exeter in Physics?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 40.20

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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