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


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 T2*, 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 T2* 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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Figure 1: Laser frequency sweep direction dependent probe absorption spectrum.
Figure 2: Time-dependent probe absorption spectrum with fixed laser frequencies.
Figure 3: The observation of the enhancement of electron spin T2*.
Figure 4: Theoretical explanation of the nuclear field self-locking effect through the DNP feedback process.

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We thank P. L. McEuen, L.-M. Duan, and D. Kim for discussions. This work is supported by US ARO, AFOSR, ONR, NSA/LPS, and FOCUS-NSF.

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Correspondence to Duncan G. Steel.

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Xu, X., Yao, W., Sun, B. et al. Optically controlled locking of the nuclear field via coherent dark-state spectroscopy. Nature 459, 1105–1109 (2009).

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