Materials and Cost Benchmarking

Common Blue Dye Probed as Material for Quantum Computing Technologies

29 October 2013

Researchers at the London Center for Nanotechnology and the University of British Columbia claim a simple blue dye molecule has potential as a medium for quantum technologies. Their conclusion was made from observations that electrons in the blue copper phthalocyanine (CuPc) dye molecule can remain in "superposition" for surprisingly long times.

CuPc is a low-cost organic semiconductor found in many household products and is similar to the light harvesting section of the chlorophyll molecule. CuPc can be processed into a thin film for device fabrication.

Quantum computing involves precise control of "qubits” which are able to exist in superposition states whose decay time, if long enough leads, to quantum data storage, manipulation and transmission.

In a paper published in Nature, the authors report two orders of magnitude greater time decay than the duration of the spin manipulation pulses, a clear indication for the properties of quantum computing.

"Our research shows that a common blue dye has more potential for quantum computing than many of the more exotic molecules that have been considered previously," said Marc Warner, a researcher at the London Center for Nanotechnology.

The CuPc pigment strongly absorbs visible light and is easy to modify chemically and physically, so its magnetic and electrical properties can be controlled.

LCN is a joint venture between University College London and Imperial College London, which opened in 2006 as a UK-based multidisciplinary nanoscience and nanotechnology research center for the two institutions.

In another discovery earlier this year, researchers at LCN demonstrated how to unravel carbon nanotubes by giving the nanotubes an electrical charge to pull apart individual strands. Working with Linde Electronics, the researchers produced an electrically-conductive carbon nanotube ink to coat carbon nanotubes onto ultra-thin sheets of transparent film used to manufacture TV and computer screens.

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