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Single organic molecules for photonic quantum technologies

Abstract

Isolating single molecules in the solid state has allowed fundamental experiments in basic and applied sciences. When cooled down to liquid helium temperature, certain molecules show transition lines that are tens of megahertz wide, limited by only the excited-state lifetime. The extreme flexibility in the synthesis of organic materials provides, at low costs, a wide palette of emission wavelengths and supporting matrices for such single chromophores. In the past few decades, their controlled coupling to photonic structures has led to an optimized interaction efficiency with light. Molecules can hence be operated as single-photon sources and as nonlinear elements with competitive performance in terms of coherence, scalability and compatibility with diverse integrated platforms. Moreover, they can be used as transducers for the optical read-out of fields and material properties, with the promise of single-quanta resolution in the sensing of charges and motion. We show that quantum emitters based on single molecules hold promise to play a key role in the development of quantum science and technologies.

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Fig. 1: Polyaromatic hydrocarbons.
Fig. 2: Single-molecule-based single-photon sources.
Fig. 3: A single molecule acting as a nonlinear medium.
Fig. 4: Molecule–photon interfaces.
Fig. 5: Using single molecules for quantum sensing.

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Acknowledgements

This project has received funding from the EraNET Cofund Initiatives QuantERA within the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme grant agreement no. 731473 (project ORQUID). A.S.C. acknowledges a University Research Fellowship from the Royal Society (UF160475) and funding from the EPSRC (EP/P030130/1, EP/P01058X/1 and EP/R044031/1). W.H.P. and I.G. acknowledge funding from the Deutsche Forschungs gemeinschaft (DFG) - Projektnummer 332724366 and GE2737/5-1, respectively. F.H.L.K. and A.R.-P. acknowledge support from the Government of Spain (FIS2016-81044; Severo Ochoa CEX2019-000910-S), Fundació Cellex, Fundació Mir-Puig, and Generalitat de Catalunya (CERCA, AGAUR, SGR 1656). Furthermore, the research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 under grant agreement no. 820378 (Quantum Flagship). We thank A. Moradi for discussions and NWO (The Dutch Research Council) for funding of his PhD grant on sensing of single charges. C.T. thanks A. Renn for always useful discussions.

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Toninelli, C., Gerhardt, I., Clark, A.S. et al. Single organic molecules for photonic quantum technologies. Nat. Mater. 20, 1615–1628 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41563-021-00987-4

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