Spotlight on QEE2DUP: A BIST Ignite Project

By May 27, 2021May 31st, 2021BIST Community, ICFO, ICN2

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Antoine Reserbat-Plantey, ICFO Postdoctoral Researcher (left)
César Moreno, Former ICN2 Associate Researcher (right)

Since the launch of the QEE2DUP BIST Ignite project, co-led by ICFO and ICN2, the team already received two facilities grants to take their research further. Recently, some members of the QEE2DUP collaboration also published an article in ACS Photonics on the perspectives of quantum photonics with 2D materials.

The BIST Ignite Project QEE2DUP, which received a 2019 BIST Ignite Grant, set out to design a new material capable of confining excitons – electronically neutral quasi-particles found in semiconductors and insulators – within graphene nanopores. Achieving this would allow researchers to control the dynamics of excitons and to confine them in a 2D regular lattice. It would also serve as the basis for designing new “quantum chips” that would increase the security in communications, and amp up capabilities in quantum computing.

Light production can be characterised by colour, intensity, and photon statistics.” Explains Project Co-Lead Dr. Antoine Reserbat-Plantey, “Sunlight and lasers produce streams of photons with distinct time-signatures. Photons coming from the sun are bunched in small groups, while the ones from a laser are randomly distributed in time. There is another category, called quantum light sources, where photons can only be emitted one at a time. In QEE2DUP, we want to confine excitons in 2D materials – for instance in MoSe2, a 2D crystal semiconductor – to create quantum light sources. To do so, we are placing another material called nano-porous graphene in the vicinity of the MoSe2.

With graphene holes, we aim to create a sharply varying electric field in close proximity to MoSe2 crystal flakes, which could act as nanoscale confinement potentials that trap the excitons.” Says Dr. Cesar Moreno, QEE2DUP’s original Co-Lead, who left ICN2 in April 2021. Dr. José Ramón Durán of ICN2 has taken over as Co-Lead this month.

The QEE2DUP project has generated discussions about emergent strategies to create single photon sources in two dimensions, a field that has been growing rapidly around the world.

The recent ACS Photonics perspective publication presents an overview of this emerging field, and discusses the prospects of both fundamental emergent phenomena and emergent quantum technologies including quantum sensing, single-photon sources, and quantum emitter manipulation.

The team hit another milestone by securing two facilities grants: one at the Molecular Foundry User Facility in California (USA) and another at the Laboratoire de Physique des Solides (LPS) in Saclay (France). There, they will have access to unique set-ups developed in specialised laboratories to take their research further.

When we planned the QEE2DUP project, we knew that at some point, we would need access to much smaller spatial resolution than usually achievable with standard optics. This type of physics requires cryogenic temperatures (typically a few Kelvin), so we had to find collaborators that are experts in nano-optics or electron spectroscopy at low temperatures, with experience in 2D materials. We found these collaborators in France and the US, and were happy to be accepted through user grants.” Explains Dr. Reserbat-Plantey.

Looking to the future, the QEE2DUP team hopes to be able to see a clear signature of quantum light from the described 2D materials. This would enable emergent quantum collective phenomena with very powerful applications.