A lattice of quantum islands could reveal secrets for powerful technologies – ScienceDaily

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have created lattices of tiny clumps of atoms known as quantum dots and studied what happens when electrons dive into these archipelagos of atomic islands. Measuring the behavior of electrons in these relatively simple setups promises deep insights into how electrons behave in complex real-world materials and could help researchers design devices that enable powerful quantum computing and other innovative technologies.

Work in progress published in nature communication, The researchers fabricated multiple 3-by-3 lattices of precisely spaced quantum dots, each containing one to three phosphorus atoms. Electrical leads and other components were attached to the grids, allowing electrons to flow through them. The lattices provided playing fields in which electrons could behave under near-ideal, textbook-like conditions, free from the confounding effects of real materials.

The researchers injected electrons into the lattices and observed how they behaved while the researchers varied conditions such as the distance between dots. In lattices where the points were close together, the electrons tended to spread out and act like waves, essentially existing in multiple places simultaneously. When the dots were far apart, they sometimes became trapped in single dots, like electrons in materials with insulating properties.

Advanced versions of the lattice would allow researchers to study the behavior of electrons in controllable environments at a level of detail that would be impossible for the world’s most powerful conventional computers to accurately simulate. It would open the door to full-fledged “analogue quantum simulators” that unlock the mysteries of exotic materials such as high-temperature superconductors. It could also provide clues as to how materials such as topological insulators can be made by controlling the geometry of the quantum dot array.

In related work just published in ACS nano, The same NIST researchers improved their fabrication method so that they can now reliably create an array of identical, evenly spaced dots, each containing exactly one atom, resulting in even more ideal environments required for a fully accurate quantum simulator. Researchers aim to build such a simulator using a larger lattice of quantum dots: a 5×5 array of dots can produce rich electron behavior that is impossible to simulate even with the most advanced supercomputers.

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Materials provided by National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST). Note: Content can be edited for style and length.

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