0336 GMT March 25, 2019
In their paper published in the journal Science, the team described building the memory device and their plans for adding to its functionality, phys.org reported.
Scientists have been working steadily toward building quantum computers and networks, and have made strides in both areas in recent years.
But one inhibiting factor is the construction of quantum memory devices. Such devices have been built, but until now, they have been too large to put on a chip, a requirement for practical applications.
In this new effort, the researchers report developing a quantum memory device that is not only small enough to fit on a chip, but is also able to retrieve data on demand.
The device is very small, approximately 10 by 0.7 micrometers and has an odd shape, like a Toblerone candy bar — long and thin with a notched triangular shape, with mirrors on either end.
It is made of yttrium orthovanadate with small amounts of neodymium, which form a cavity.
These cavities in turn hold a crystal cavity that traps single photons encoding data information (zero, one or both).
To operate the device, the researchers fired laser pulses at it, causing photons to assemble in the comb, which forced them to be absorbed —the configuration also caused the photons to emerge from the comb after 75 nanoseconds.
During the time period when the photons were absorbed, the researchers fired dual laser pulses at the comb to delay the reemergence of the photons for 10 nanoseconds, which allowed for on-demand retrieval of data.
During the time period when the photons were held, they existed as dual pulses — early and late.
To show that the device was actually storing data information, the team compared the wavefunction of the photons both before and after storage and found them to be virtually unchanged, meaning they still held their zero, one or both state — it had not been destroyed, which meant the device was truly a quantum memory device.