X-rays reveal the inner workings of quantum sound-wave technology

When exposed to stress and strain, materials can display a wide range of different properties. By using sound waves, scientists have begun to explore fundamental stress behaviors in a crystalline material that could form the basis for quantum information technologies-a type of technology which could have fundamentally breakthrough applications in multiple parts of our lives.

Such sound-wave systems have the potential to play a transformative role in quantum information transfer, the scientists said, but exactly what’s going on inside the material is not well understood because it’s so difficult to measure.

In a new discovery by researchers at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory , scientists used X-rays to observe spatial changes in a silicon carbide crystal when using sound waves to strain buried defects inside it.

"This technique opens a way for us to figure out the behaviors in a lot of systems in which we don’t have a good analytical prediction of what the relationship should be," said Argonne nanoscientist Martin Holt, the lead author of the study.

"This study combines expertise from a leading academic institution with state-of-the-art instrumentation of a national laboratory to develop a novel technique for probing matter at the atomic scale, revealing the ability of sound waves to control semiconductor quantum technologies," added study co-author David Awschalom, the Liew Family Professor of Molecular Engineering at UChicago and an Argonne scientist.


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