Designer diamonds could one day help build a quantum internet

human-made diamond
GLITZY HARDWARE A new kind of human-made diamond (the clear material across the middle of this optical microscope image, measuring about 4 by 10 millimeters) laced with silicon and boron could be used to build better quantum memory devices.

A new kind of artificial diamond is a cut above the rest for quantum memory.

Unlike other synthetic diamonds, which could either store quantum information for a long time or transmit it clearly, the new diamond can do both. This designer crystal, described in the July 6 Science, could be a key building block in a quantum internet. Such a futuristic communications network would allow people to send supersecure messages and connect quantum computers around the world (SN: 10/15/16, p. 13).

Synthetic diamond can serve as quantum storage thanks to a type of flaw in its carbon lattice, where two neighboring carbon atoms are replaced with one noncarbon atom and an empty space (SN: 4/5/08, p. 216). This pairing exhibits a quantum property known as spin, which can be in an “up” state, a “down” state or both at once. Each of those states reflects a bit of quantum data, or qubit, that may be 1, 0 or both at once. A diamond transmits qubits by…

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