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Diamond synthesis: future of quantum computer and model of Arctic subsoil

October 05, 2017, 18:05 UTC+3 NOVOSIBIRSK
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NOVOSIBIRSK, October 5. /TASS/. Artificial diamonds containing germanium may be affected by magnetic fields and microwave radiation - this means their big role as memory cells in quantum computers, say scientists of the Geology and Mineralogy Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Siberian branch jointly with counterparts from Germany and the US. Head of the Institute's Laboratory of experimental mineralogy and crystal synthesis Yuri Palyanov told TASS about the importance of synthetic diamonds in quantum electronics and Arctic research.

Quantum future

The Institute's scientists jointly with experts of the Novosibirsk State University under a project of the Russian Scientific Foundation synthesized diamonds containing germanium, which forms in the crystal structure centers with interesting fluorescent features.

"Experiments have proved those structures may be used as cells of quantum memory - a key element for wide quantum nets," the expert said, adding the sources giving certain photons may increase by a thousand times effectiveness of information transmission and improve systems of quantum coding.

Diamonds for Arctic research

Studies of synthetic diamonds give understanding of what happened millions of years ago at the huge depths of the Earth's mantle under the extreme pressure and temperatures, including in the territory of modern Arctic, where most diamonds are produced. What the laboratory experiment does is - the crystals grow there under conditions, which are most close to the natural conditions, though within shorter time. "As we compare the synthetic diamonds and the natural diamonds, we can learn how crystals grew in the natural conditions, what their history is like," the scientist said.

Diamonds are made in special systems - the institute uses now the seventh generation of that equipment. Every apparatus weights about three tonnes, it may produce pressure like at the depth of 250km and temperature of up to 2,500 degrees Celsius. It takes from ten hours to a few days to grow a diamond.

Nature and synthesis

It is impossible to find two identical natural diamonds. "This peculiarity makes them practically useless as far as use in high-tech sectors is concerned," the scientist explained. "Much more attractive here seem to be artificial diamonds with pre-ordered features."

Diamond scalpels, diamond powder covering, semiconductor crystals and crystals for quantum technologies - all those are synthetic. For example, the crystals, made at the Institute, are used for making scalpels to be used in eye surgery: those instruments not just cut, they rather move apart the tissue thus allowing scars heal quickly. Artificial diamonds are used for infrared and X-ray optics. The diamond anvils, made of crystals, grown at the Institute's laboratory, are used in research of super-high pressures, equivalent to the pressure at the depth of about 1,000 kilometers.

The art of producing defects

Many useful features of diamonds come from defects in their structures, some of them change the electric conductivity or their coloring and fluorescent features. "Strange as it may seem, diamonds with ideal crystal structures is of rather purely scientific interest; the sphere of using practically crystals of the kind is very limited," the expert said.

In the research, scientists are trying to understand how whatever parameters of the growing process could influence diamonds' structures, he added.

"We are trying to find the threads, by pulling which we could produce crystals of desired qualities," the scientist said. "Those threads are a few - temperature, pressure, chemical structure of the environment, various supplements," he explained. "Nowadays, we can produce different crystals, including the crystals which do not exist in nature."

Results of the latest research show that under certain conditions copper and oxygen could be "locked" into crystal lattice, which formerly was considered unrealistic. Scientists continue studying new defects to see how such crystals could be used.

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