What makes diamonds so valuable? Most of us would position to their brilliance, clarity and attractiveness.
But Christopher Smallwood, assistant professor of physics and astronomy at San José Point out, has a different remedy: He seems to diamonds as the important to unearthing the techniques of quantum physics.
Smallwood and his collaborators are utilizing diamonds to far better have an understanding of how the earth functions at the scale of a single atom. His new findings, “Hidden Silicon-Vacancy Centers in Diamonds,” have been released in Could in the journal Actual physical Evaluation Letters.
In the jewellery retail store, people today ordinarily appear for the diamond with the fewest flaws. But Smallwood spelled out that, in the lab, these flaws are precisely what can make diamond samples so unique.
He and fellow researchers make atom-sized flaws in the diamonds. Then, utilizing a laser with pulses of gentle much less than a trillionth of a second, they can observe the details and properties of individuals flaws “in a way we by no means had been capable to before,” Smallwood reported.
Checking out new territory
Why diamonds? To commence, their crystal apparent make-up enables experts to effortlessly accessibility flaws with laser technologies, Smallwood described.
But what’s a lot more, they have a treasure trove of quantum techniques for physicists to uncover.
“There are actually textbooks about optical resonances in diamonds for which no one particular understands the fundamental origin,” he mentioned. By resonances, he usually means bodily responses in the diamonds to outside stimuli, these kinds of as gentle.
“From an experimental physicist’s level of perspective, it is definitely wonderful to have so considerably left to investigate.”
Smallwood observed that his analysis can take put amid Silicon Valley’s force towards quantum engineering — that is, making use of quantum physics to technological innovation. Currently, IBM and Google, for example, are setting up quantum personal computers, which will have the electricity to apply quantum physics know-how to remedy today’s most pressing challenges, like developing sustainable energy, lowering emissions and building a lot more handy synthetic intelligence.
Smallwood’s exploration demonstrates how San José Condition could develop into a essential participant in this method.
“I’ve found a variety of firms pop up in and about Silicon Valley in modern several years aiming to make new inroads in quantum technological innovation, and SJSU is properly-positioned to assistance educate the workforce expected to make these technological dreams a actuality,” Smallwood stated. “The publication of this paper can help underscore this possible.”
Shining gentle at San José Condition
Smallwood’s new conclusions tie carefully with his project funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation he been given in 2020. The grant has allowed Smallwood to progress San José State’s capabilities of learning the qualities of diamonds and other resources through gentle.
“SJSU is terrific simply because of the strategies it enables me to specifically operate with undergraduate and master’s college students and stay lively in the laboratory,” he mentioned. “Student participation in these investigate attempts is crucial. And I have got some extraordinary graduate and undergraduate pupils presently operating in my group.”
A person of those people learners is Tommy Wen Chin, ’22 Physics, who is encouraging Smallwood to far better realize the latest conclusions. Collectively, he and Smallwood will function on another manuscript that explores the idea at the rear of the get the job done, which they will submit for publication.
Chin mentioned he’s attaining precious knowledge for the long run: He designs to go after a PhD in physics and a job in educational exploration.
“This working experience will give me a major head begin in that process, as I understand not only to complete study, but also to formally report it by way of publications. Remaining a initially creator on a publication as an undergraduate scholar is quite scarce in tutorial circles, and this will greatly enhance my reliability as I utilize for programs.”
But most importantly, Chin stated he is finding to investigate his passion and progress his knowledge of quantum physics.
“The chance to discover something new in physics is what drives me,” he shared. “The method of analysis jobs usually will involve finding out bits and pieces of the physics right here and there. The most attention-grabbing and remarkable element for me is when all these small items match jointly seamlessly and notify a cohesive story.”
Smallwood, of class, understands Chin’s passion for quantum physics and the exploration course of action as a entire.
“There’s a little something truly aesthetically attractive about the theoretical aspect of the get the job done, and on the experimental facet, you get to construct factors with your individual hands,” Smallwood reported. “I enjoy working with lasers and shining light-weight on matters because — even at the degree of significant-amount physics experiments — seeing is believing.”