Light sources that emit a stream of identical particles of light are critical for the advancement of light-based quantum technologies. These technologies include secure quantum communication and light-based quantum computing. Light from such sources is referred to as quantum light. Bright sources of quantum light will enable optical technologies that are unachievable with today's classical light sources, much as the development of lasers paved the way for key innovations in science and led to a large body of essential commercial applications. The research team focuses on the development of nanoparticles that can emit quantum light. These nanoparticles can be made in solution and in quantity, paving the way for the production of large numbers of identical quantum light sources. Engaging and retaining women and underrepresented minorities (URMs) in the sciences is a systemic challenge the team addresses through a variety of complementary efforts. The project encompasses pre-college outreach programs targeting K-12 students and the broader community, fostering exposure and excitement about the science conducted. Undergraduates are encouraged to obtain research experience preparing them for graduate school through a set of initiatives, especially focusing on URM students.

The project aims to develop lead halide perovskite nanocrystals capable of serving as single photon sources to enable a broad range of quantum information technology applications. The project follows a multifaceted approach combining chemical exploration of composition, shape, size and ligand environment together with computational modeling. The interplay between computational exploration and chemical synthesis allows for the design and synthesis of colloidal quantum emitters that can serve as building blocks in nano-electronic devices in a rational and scalable fashion. Current lead halide perovskite nanocrystals suffer from two main shortcomings with respect to coherent single photon emission, namely instability of the lattice and competitive dephasing. The team synthesizes and investigates new ligands and inorganic shells to suppress the dynamic twinning within the crystal and to rigidify the lattice to diminish phononic coupling, aiming to increase photon coherence times. Optimizations in composition and geometry are explored to yield faster lifetimes and improved photon purity. Construction of colloidal nano-assemblies are used to decrease lifetimes, paving the way for the development of a family of emitters with transform limited emission. Establishing this colloidal system as a viable source of quantum light critically expands the toolbox of quantum photonics.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Materials Research (DMR)
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Robert Opila
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Massachusetts Institute of Technology
United States
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