Development of Persistent Quantum Memories




Zhong, Manjin

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This thesis investigates the coherence properties of the hyperfine transitions of the 151Eu3+ ions in Eu3+:Y2SiO5 and evaluates the potential of developing quantum memories using these transitions. Quantum memories for light with long storage times are required for quantum commu- nication applications. For these memories to be useful they need to have storage times long compared to the transmission times across the communication network. For a global optical communication network this requires storage time longer than 100 ms. Rare-earth doped crystals have been identified as a suitable storage material. The storage time of these systems is limited by the coherence time of the hyperfine transitions of the optically active rare-earth ions. In previous work it had been demonstrated that coherence times as long as 1.4 seconds could be achieved for hyperfine transitions in Pr3+:Y2SiO5 by ap- plying a particular magnetic field such that the first order Zeeman shift of the transition nulled. This technique is known as zero first-order Zeeman (ZEFOZ). Due to the relatively large second order Zeeman efficient of the transitions in Pr3+:Y2SiO5, an extension of the coherence time, significantly beyond the 1.4 second mark using ZEFOZ, is not expected. However, it has been predicted that coherence times more than two orders of magnitude longer could be achieved in Eu3+:Y2SiO5 due to the smaller second order Zeeman shifts associated with the relevant hyperfine transitions. The dominant decoherence mechanism for the hyperfine transitions in diluted Eu3+:Y2SiO5 is the magnetic field perturbations caused by the random spin reconfigu- ration of the Y3+ ions in the host. By applying the ZEFOZ technique, previously used in Pr3+:Y2SiO5, the sensitivity of the transition’s frequency to environmental magnetic field perturbations was significantly reduced. Further, this strong ZEFOZ magnetic field was also shown to induce a frozen core around the Eu3+ ion, which resulted in a signifi- cant suppression of the reconfiguration of the nearby Y3+ spins. The combined effect of the reduced sensitivity and frozen core effect allowed a decoherence rate of 8 × 10−5 s−1 over 100 milliseconds to be demonstrated. The observed decoherence rate is at least an order of magnitude lower than that of any other system suitable for an optical quantum memory. Furthermore, by employing dynamic decoherence control, a coherence time of 370 ± 60 minutes was achieved. This 6 hour coherence time observed here opens up the possibility of distributing quantum entanglement via the physical transport of memories as an alternative to optical communications. It was found that even at the critical point alignment the observed coherence times showed that the Y3+ spin flips remain the dominant decoherence mechanism. To aid in the development of future strategies to further extend the coherence time beyond 6 hours, a study of the Y3+ spin dynamics in the frozen core was conducted. Four of the Y3+ sites were resolved and a complete mapping of all frozen-core Y3+ sites was limited by the inhomogeneity of the applied magnetic field. The Rabi frequency, the coherence time and lifetime as well as the interaction strength with the Eu3+ ion of one of these Y3+ ions were measured. The observed lifetime of the Y3+ ion is 27 s, which is four orders of magnitude longer than the low field value. With the technique developed, a detailed understanding of the frozen-core dynamics is possible, which would allow an extension of the hyperfine coherence time of the Eu3+ ion towards the lifetime limit. In summary, this thesis provides a detailed characterisation of the decoherence mecha- nisms of the hyperfine transitions in Eu3+:Y2SiO5. The potential of using rare-earth doped crystals for the long-term storage of quantum information with applications to long-range quantum communications is identified. The demonstrated long coherence time of the quantum transitions for information storage allows a new way of entanglement distribu- tion: entanglement is transported by physically transporting the memory crystal rather than the light. This approach opens a new regime for both quantum communication and fundamental tests of quantum mechanics.



quantum memory, quantum communication, rare earth, solid-state spectroscopy, long coherence time, hyperfine state, nuclear spins




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