A team of researchers from MIT and other institutions have discovered a way to develop new kinds of devices that can efficiently bridge the gap between matter and light. These innovative devices include computer chips that eliminate inefficiencies and qubits, which are the basic building blocks for quantum computers.
The researchers sandwiched tiny flakes of a material called perovskite between two precisely spaced reflective surfaces. This process allowed the scientists to directly control the momentum of certain quasiparticles within the system, known as exciton-polariton pairs. These quasiparticles are hybrids of light and matter and lie on a spectrum between purely electronic and photonic systems.
The researchers discovered that controlling exciton-polaritons could ultimately make it possible to read and write data to devices based on this phenomenon. This discovery could lead to computer chips that eliminate inefficiencies that are inherent in today’s versions. Additionally, qubits could operate at room temperature instead of ultracold conditions, which is needed by most quantum devices. The quasiparticles used by this team can be easily controlled through multiple variables, making it an energy-efficient way to manipulate the combined state of matter.
The researchers chose a version of perovskite called phenethylammonium lead iodide, which harvests light very well and turns photons into electrons or excitons, depending on the dimensionality and material properties of the perovskite. This material is easily manufactured using room-temperature, solution-based processing methods, making it relatively easy to produce at scale once practical systems are designed.
While this work is at an early stage, researchers are still studying the newly discovered effects. Practical applications could be 5 to 10 years away. A more near-term application of the new findings could be in producing new kinds of light-emitting devices, including ones that provide a steerable light source with directional output that can be controlled electronically.
This research could revolutionize the way computer chips and qubits operate, leading to more efficient devices that can operate at room temperature. The discovery of exciton-polaritons and their controllability through multiple variables could be the key to unlocking the potential of matter and light.