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Atomic clock transitions in silicon-based spin qubits


A Corrigendum to this article was published on 07 November 2013

This article has been updated


A major challenge in using spins in the solid state for quantum technologies is protecting them from sources of decoherence. This is particularly important in nanodevices where the proximity of material interfaces, and their associated defects, can play a limiting role. Spin decoherence can be addressed to varying degrees by improving material purity or isotopic composition1,2, for example, or active error correction methods such as dynamic decoupling3,4 (or even combinations of the two5,6). However, a powerful method applied to trapped ions in the context of atomic clocks7,8 is the use of particular spin transitions that are inherently robust to external perturbations. Here, we show that such ‘clock transitions’ can be observed for electron spins in the solid state, in particular using bismuth donors in silicon9,10. This leads to dramatic enhancements in the electron spin coherence time, exceeding seconds. We find that electron spin qubits based on clock transitions become less sensitive to the local magnetic environment, including the presence of 29Si nuclear spins as found in natural silicon. We expect the use of such clock transitions will be of additional significance for donor spins in nanodevices11, mitigating the effects of magnetic or electric field noise arising from nearby interfaces and gates.

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Figure 1: ESR-type clock transitions (CTs) of Si:Bi.
Figure 2: Decoherence mechanisms of Bi donors in Si and their dependence on df/dB.
Figure 3: Hahn echo decay at the clock transition.

Change history

  • 26 September 2013

    In the version of this Letter originally published, ref. 21 should have read: Morley. G. W. et al. Quantum control of hybrid nuclear-electronic qubits. Nature Mater. 12, 103–107 (2013). This error has been corrected in the HTML and PDF versions of the Letter.


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The authors thank S. Simmons, T. Monteiro and S. Balian for discussions. This research is supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council through the Materials World Network (EP/I035536/1) and a Doctoral Training Award, as well as by the European Research Council under the European Community's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013)/ERC (grant agreement no. 279781). Work at Princeton was supported by the National Science Foundation through Materials World Network (DMR-1107606) and through the Princeton Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (DMR-0819860) and the National Security Agency/Laboratory for Physical Sciences through Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory (6970579). J.J.L.M. is supported by the Royal Society.

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G.W., A.M.T., R.E.G., S.A.L., M.L.W.T. and J.J.L.M. conceived and designed the experiments. G.W. and A.M.T. performed the experiments. G.W., A.M.T., S.A.L. and J.J.L.M. analysed the data. H.R., N.V.A., P.B., H-J.P. and M.L.W.T. provided materials. G.W. and J.J.L.M. wrote the paper with input from all authors.

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Correspondence to Gary Wolfowicz or John J. L. Morton.

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Wolfowicz, G., Tyryshkin, A., George, R. et al. Atomic clock transitions in silicon-based spin qubits. Nature Nanotech 8, 561–564 (2013).

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