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Quantum sensing of a coherent single spin excitation in a nuclear ensemble

Abstract

Accessing an ensemble of coherently interacting objects at the level of single quanta via a proxy qubit is transformative in the investigations of emergent quantum phenomena. An isolated nuclear spin ensemble is a remarkable platform owing to its coherence, but sensing its excitations with single spin precision has remained elusive. Here we achieve quantum sensing of a single nuclear-spin excitation (a nuclear magnon) in a dense ensemble of approximately 80,000 nuclei. A Ramsey measurement on the electron proxy qubit enables us to sense the hyperfine shift induced by a single nuclear magnon. We resolve multiple magnon modes distinguished by atomic species and spin polarity via the spectral dependence of this hyperfine shift. Finally, we observe the time-dependent shift induced by collective Rabi oscillations, revealing the competition between the buildup of quantum correlations and decoherence in the ensemble. These techniques could be extended to probe the engineered quantum states of the ensemble such as long-lived memory states.

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Fig. 1: Quantum sensing with single magnon precision.
Fig. 2: Single magnon spectrum.
Fig. 3: Erasing a single magnon.
Fig. 4: Sensing coherent dynamics of a dense nuclear ensemble.

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Data availability

All data that support the plots within this paper and other findings of this study are available from the corresponding authors upon reasonable request.

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Acknowledgements

We thank G. Éthier-Majcher for helpful discussions. We acknowledge support from the US Office of Naval Research Global (N62909-19-1-2115), ERC PHOENICS (617985), EPSRC NQIT (EP/M013243/1), EU H2020 FET-Open project QLUSTER (DLV-862035) and the Royal Society (EA/181068). Samples were grown in the EPSRC National Epitaxy Facility. D.A.G. acknowledges a St. John’s College Fellowship and C.L.G., a Dorothy Hodgkin Royal Society Fellowship.

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Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

D.A.G., C.L.G. and M.A. conceived the experiments. D.M.J. and D.A.G. carried out the experiments and the data analysis. D.A.G., L.Z. and C.L.G. performed the theory and simulations. E.C. and M.H. grew the material. All the authors contributed to the discussion of the results. All the authors participated in preparing the manuscript.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to D. A. Gangloff or M. Atatüre.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Peer review informationNature Physics thanks Olivier Krebs and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Extended data

Extended Data Fig. 1 Sample heterostructure.

A 3D render of the sample heterostructure (not to scale) with a cut-out above the QD layer. SIL stands for solid immersion lens and DBR stands for distributed Bragg reflector.

Extended Data Fig. 2 Experimental schematic.

Amplitude modulation of a single-frequency (ωL) laser with an electro-optic amplitude modulator (EOM) driven by a microwave tone (ωμw) produces two sidebands for spin-control. Encoding a phase step Δϕμw in the microwave signal using an arbitrary waveform egenrator (AWG) produces a change of relative phase 2Δϕμw between the two sidebands. These then drive two-photon Raman transitions between the energy levels of a negatively charged QD, as shown on the right. The optical fields have a single-photon detuning from the excited state of Δ = 800 GHz, and a two-photon detuning from the ESR of δ. Resonant laser pulses optically pump the electron spin at specific moments during the experimental sequence; this serves both to initialize the electron prior to spin control and to read out the population of the spin- state. Photons scattered back through the polarization- and frequency-filtered confocal microscope are detected on a Quantum Opus superconducting-nanowire single-photon detector (SNSPD).

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Sections I–VIII, Figs. 1–13 and Tables 1–3.

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Jackson, D.M., Gangloff, D.A., Bodey, J.H. et al. Quantum sensing of a coherent single spin excitation in a nuclear ensemble. Nat. Phys. 17, 585–590 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41567-020-01161-4

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