New quantum tool developed in groundbreaking experimental achievement

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

by Kelsey Stoddart

For the first time in experimental history, researchers at the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) have created a device that generates twisted neutrons with well-defined orbital angular momentum. Previously considered an impossibility, this groundbreaking scientific accomplishment provides a brand new avenue for researchers to study the development of next-generation quantum materials with applications ranging from quantum computing to identifying and solving new problems in fundamental physics. 

“Neutrons are a powerful probe for the characterization of emerging quantum materials because they have several unique features,” said Dr. Dusan Sarenac, research associate with IQC and technical lead, Transformative Quantum Technologies at the University of Waterloo. “They have nanometer-sized wavelengths, electrical neutrality, and a relatively large mass. These features mean neutrons can pass through materials that X-rays and light cannot.” 

This new research, from Dr. Dmitry Pushin’s research group at IQC, created devices with microscopic fork-like silicon grating structures. When a beam of single neutrons passed through this device, the individual neutrons began winding in a corkscrew pattern, indicating that quantized orbital angular momentum had been generated in these neutron beams. Devices were created at the Quantum Nano Fabrication and Characterization Facility at the University of Waterloo. 

To learn more about their research, see the original story “New quantum tool developed in groundbreaking experimental achievement” on Waterloo News.