Letter

Nature 459, 1105-1109 (25 June 2009) | doi:10.1038/nature08120; Received 30 November 2008; Accepted 5 May 2009

Optically controlled locking of the nuclear field via coherent dark-state spectroscopy

Xiaodong Xu1,5, Wang Yao4,5, Bo Sun1,5, Duncan G. Steel1, Allan S. Bracker2, Daniel Gammon2 & L. J. Sham3

  1. The H. M. Randall Laboratory of Physics, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA
  2. Naval Research Laboratory, Washington DC 20375, USA
  3. Department of Physics, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093, USA
  4. Department of Physics, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
  5. These authors contributed equally to this work.

Correspondence to: Duncan G. Steel1 Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to D.G.S. (Email: dst@umich.edu).

A single electron or hole spin trapped inside a semiconductor quantum dot forms the foundation for many proposed quantum logic devices1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. In group III–V materials, the resonance and coherence between two ground states of the single spin are inevitably affected by the lattice nuclear spins through the hyperfine interaction7, 8, 9, while the dynamics of the single spin also influence the nuclear environment10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15. Recent efforts12, 16 have been made to protect the coherence of spins in quantum dots by suppressing the nuclear spin fluctuations. However, coherent control of a single spin in a single dot with simultaneous suppression of the nuclear fluctuations has yet to be achieved. Here we report the suppression of nuclear field fluctuations in a singly charged quantum dot to well below the thermal value, as shown by an enhancement of the single electron spin dephasing time T 2*, which we measure using coherent dark-state spectroscopy. The suppression of nuclear fluctuations is found to result from a hole-spin assisted dynamic nuclear spin polarization feedback process, where the stable value of the nuclear field is determined only by the laser frequencies at fixed laser powers. This nuclear field locking is further demonstrated in a three-laser measurement, indicating a possible enhancement of the electron spin T 2* by a factor of several hundred. This is a simple and powerful method of enhancing the electron spin coherence time without use of 'spin echo'-type techniques8, 12. We expect that our results will enable the reproducible preparation of the nuclear spin environment for repetitive control and measurement of a single spin with minimal statistical broadening.

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