Carbon nanotubes as emerging quantum-light sources

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Progress in quantum computing and quantum cryptography requires efficient, electrically triggered, single-photon sources at room temperature in the telecom wavelengths. It has been long known that semiconducting single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) display strong excitonic binding and emit light over a broad range of wavelengths, but their use has been hampered by a low quantum yield and a high sensitivity to spectral diffusion and blinking. In this Perspective, we discuss recent advances in the mastering of SWCNT optical properties by chemistry, electrical contacting and resonator coupling towards advancing their use as quantum light sources. We describe the latest results in terms of single-photon purity, generation efficiency and indistinguishability. Finally, we consider the main fundamental challenges stemming from the unique properties of SWCNTs and the most promising roads for SWCNT-based chip integrated quantum photonic sources.

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Fig. 1: Optical emission properties of SWCNTs.
Fig. 2: Integration of SWCNTs into photonic and opto-electronic structures for control of light emission.
Fig. 3: Progress in optimization of SWCNTs’ luminescence characteristics.

Change history

  • 22 May 2019

    An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.

  • 11 July 2018

    In the version of this Perspective originally published, the x-axis label of Fig. 1d was missing; it should have read ‘Wavelength (nm)’. The units of the y axis of Fig. 3b were incorrect; they should have been meV. And the citation of Fig. 3c in the main text was incorrect; it should have been to Fig. 3b. These issues have now been corrected.


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Work at LANL was supported in part by the LANL LDRD programme and was performed in part at the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies, a US Department of Energy, Office of Science user facility. Work at ENS was supported in part by the ANR grant NC2.

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Correspondence to C. Voisin.

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