Room-temperature single-photon generation from solitary dopants of carbon nanotubes

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On-demand single-photon sources capable of operating at room temperature and the telecom wavelength range of 1,300–1,500 nm hold the key to the realization of novel technologies that span from sub-diffraction imaging to quantum key distribution and photonic quantum information processing1,2,3. Here, we show that incorporation of undoped (6,5) single-walled carbon nanotubes into a SiO2 matrix can lead to the creation of solitary oxygen dopant states capable of fluctuation-free, room-temperature single-photon emission in the 1,100–1,300 nm wavelength range. We investigated the effects of temperature on photoluminescence emission efficiencies, fluctuations and decay dynamics of the dopant states and determined the conditions most suitable for the observation of single-photon emission. This emission can in principle be extended to 1,500 nm by doping of smaller-bandgap single-walled carbon nanotubes4,5. This easy tunability presents a distinct advantage over existing defect centre single-photon emitters (for example, diamond defect centres)1,2,3,6. Our SiO2-encapsulated sample also presents exciting opportunities to apply Si/SiO2-based micro/nano-device fabrication techniques in the development of electrically driven single-photon sources and integration of these sources into quantum photonic devices and networks.

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Figure 1: Mechanism of photon antibunching from undoped tubes at cryogenic temperatures and exciton localization in oxygen-doped tubes at room temperature.
Figure 2: Schematic of SiO2 matrix-incorporated SWCNTs and their optical properties.
Figure 3: Photon antibunching and carrier dynamic properties of SWCNTs embedded in a SiO2 matrix.
Figure 4: Effects of temperature on photoluminescence emission properties of individual dopant states and probability of observing single-photon generation.


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This work was conducted at the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies, a US Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Sciences user facility, and supported by Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) Directed Research and Development Funds.

Author information

H.H., S.K.D. and X.M. conceived and designed the experiment. X.M., under the supervision of H.H., performed all spectroscopy studies and data analysis. N.F.H., under the supervision of S.K.D., performed carbon nanotube separation chemistry. J.K.S.B and X.M. performed electron-beam deposition of SiO2. N.F.H. and S.K.D. assisted in analysis and interpretation of the results. X.M. and H.H. prepared the manuscript with assistance from all other co-authors.

Correspondence to Stephen K. Doorn or Han Htoon.

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Ma, X., Hartmann, N., Baldwin, J. et al. Room-temperature single-photon generation from solitary dopants of carbon nanotubes. Nature Nanotech 10, 671–675 (2015) doi:10.1038/nnano.2015.136

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