A huge effort is underway to develop semiconductor nanostructures as low-noise qubits. A key source of dephasing for an electron spin qubit in GaAs and in naturally occurring Si is the nuclear spin bath. The electron spin is coupled to each nuclear spin by the hyperfine interaction. The same interaction also couples two remote nuclear spins via a common coupling to the delocalized electron. It has been suggested that this interaction limits both electron and nuclear spin coherence, but experimental proof is lacking. We show that the nuclear spin decoherence time decreases by two orders of magnitude on occupying an empty quantum dot with a single electron, recovering to its original value for two electrons. In the case of one electron, agreement with a model calculation verifies the hypothesis of an electron-mediated nuclear spin–nuclear spin coupling. The results establish a framework to understand the main features of this complex interaction in semiconductor nanostructures.
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R.J.W., M.P. and D.L. acknowledge support from NCCR QSIT; R.J.W. and D.L. from EU ITN S3NANO; R.J.W. from SNF project 200020_156637; M.P. from the SNI; and A.L. and A.D.W. from Mercur Pr-2013-0001 and BMBF-Q.com-H 16KIS0109.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Wüst, G., Munsch, M., Maier, F. et al. Role of the electron spin in determining the coherence of the nuclear spins in a quantum dot. Nature Nanotech 11, 885–889 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/nnano.2016.114