Electrically driven single-photon source at room temperature in diamond


Single-photon sources that provide non-classical light states on demand have a broad range of applications in quantum communication, quantum computing and metrology1. Single-photon emission has been demonstrated using single atoms2, ions3, molecules4, diamond colour centres5,6 and semiconductor quantum dots7,8,9,10,11. Significant progress in highly efficient8,11 and entangled photons9 sources has recently been shown in semiconductor quantum dots; however, the requirement of cryogenic temperatures due to the necessity to confine carriers is a major obstacle. Here, we show the realization of a stable, room-temperature, electrically driven single-photon source based on a single neutral nitrogen-vacancy centre in a novel diamond diode structure. Remarkably, the generation of electroluminescence follows kinetics fundamentally different from that of photoluminescence with intra-bandgap excitation. This suggests electroluminescence is generated by electron–hole recombination at the defect. Our results prove that functional single defects can be integrated into electronic control structures, which is a crucial step towards elaborate quantum information devices.

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Figure 1: NV centre in diamond and device.
Figure 2: Microscopy images and spectra.
Figure 3: Antibunching and lifetime of NV0.
Figure 4: Kinetics of electroluminescence.


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The authors acknowledge financial support by the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) Precursory Research for Embryonic Science and Technology (PRESTO) programme, as well as KAKENHI (grant nos 22102502 and 23681017), the Strategic Information and Communication R&D Promotion Program (SCOPE), the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) programme, the JST Core Research for Evolutional Science and Technology (CREST) programme, the European Union (EU) via the grants Solid State Quantum Technology and Metrology Using Spins (SQUTEC), DIAMANT and Solid State Systems for Quantum Information Processing (SOLID), the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) via research groups 730, 1482 and 1495, the Max Planck Society, and the Hungarian Scientific Research Fund (OTKA; grant no. K-67886).

Author information

T.M., H.K., D.T. and M.O. synthesized and fabricated the diamond device. N.M. built a home-made confocal microscope system with assistance from P.N., F.J. and J.W., and carried out the measurements. N.M., M.N., H.O., S.Y., P.N., F.J. and J.W. contributed to the data analysis. A.G. carried out group theory analysis and the ab initio calculations. N.M. and J.W. wrote the manuscript with feedback from all authors. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

Correspondence to N. Mizuochi.

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Mizuochi, N., Makino, T., Kato, H. et al. Electrically driven single-photon source at room temperature in diamond. Nature Photon 6, 299–303 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1038/nphoton.2012.75

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