Two new Royal Society University Research Fellows, Dr Brian Patton and Dr Josh Nunn, have recently started new research programmes in Photonics. Both of them are using the photonic properties of diamond as the means to develop new scientific methods for research in quanutm physics and neuroscience.
Dr Patton, a physicist based in the Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour in Oxford, said "I will develop new technologies that will enable better imaging of brains in action. By using defects in diamond that are sensitive to electric and magnetic fields, I'd like to directly image the firing of neural cells. This will require processing of nanodiamond particles to label neurons of interest and the development of optical methods to detect these firing events. In particular, I want to incorporate super-resolution and adaptive optics methods to currently proposed schemes to turn them from test-bed technologies into routine tools that allow biologists to gain a deeper understanding of the workings of brains."
Dr Nunn, who is based in the Department of Atomic and Laser Physics, said "I will be working on developing technologies to allow large-scale photonic computing: that is, quantum computing with light. Specifically, we developed one of the world's fastest quantum memories for storing photons. We'll apply this to the synchronisation of probabilistic photon sources and entanglement generation. In parallel, we will be developing a coherent light-matter interface based on Raman scattering from impurities in diamond. These so-called NV centres behave like trapped atoms, enabling coherent interactions familiar from atomic physics, but on a diamond chip. This system is exciting because strong interactions could be engineered, to produce a "photonic transistor" that could be used for quantum information processing."