Rare earth ions in crystals exhibit narrow spectral features and hyperfine-split ground states with exceptionally long coherence times. These features make them ideal platforms for quantum information processing in the solid state. Recently, we reported on the first high-resolution spectroscopy of single Pr3+ ions in yttrium orthosilicate nanocrystals via the H-3(4)-P-3(0) transition at a wavelength of 488 nm. Here we show that individual praseodymium ions can also be detected on the more commonly studied H-3(4)-D-1(2) transition at 606 nm. In addition, we present the first measurements of the second-order autocorrelation function, fluorescence lifetime, and emission spectra of single ions in this system as well as their polarization dependencies on both transitions. Furthermore, we demonstrate that by a proper choice of the crystallite, one can obtain narrower spectral lines and, thus, resolve the hyperfine levels of the excited state. We expect our results to make single-ion spectroscopy accessible to a larger scientific community.
Spectroscopic detection and state preparation of a single praseodymium ion in a crystal
T. Utikal, E. Eichhammer, L. Petersen, A. Renn, S. Goetzinger, V. Sandoghdar
The narrow optical transitions and long spin coherence times of rare earth ions in crystals make them desirable for a number of applications ranging from solid-state spectroscopy and laser physics to quantum information processing. However, investigations of these features have not been possible at the single-ion level. Here we show that the combination of cryogenic high-resolution laser spectroscopy with optical microscopy allows one to spectrally select individual praseodymium ions in yttrium orthosilicate. Furthermore, this spectral selectivity makes it possible to resolve neighbouring ions with a spatial precision of the order of 10 nm. In addition to elaborating on the essential experimental steps for achieving this long-sought goal, we demonstrate state preparation and read out of the three ground-state hyperfine levels, which are known to have lifetimes of the order of hundred seconds.
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