In our highly-technological world, there is an increasing demand and use of quantum properties of materials for new devices and sensors of unprecedented precision including, but not limited to, biomedical applications, key elements in micro- and nano-electronics, or the basis for the expected bloom of quantum computation in the near future. The research project on Quantum Materials at CMAM is focused on exploiting the capabilities of our ion accelerator in order to modify several target materials with potential quantum applications.
One of the most promising “quantum materials” is diamond, which possesses unmatched physical and chemical properties that make it an ideal matrix for multiple high-tech applications. An additional merit of diamond is that it preserves much of its quantum features even at room temperature. Our goal is to tune the properties of synthetic diamond crystals, irradiating it either with nitrogen (N) or with boron (B) MeV ions. In the former case, we want to study and prepare in a controlled way NV- colour centres in diamond, aiming to develop quantum sensors allowing to measure the magnetic field of biological systems. In the latter case, we are studying the possibility to fabricate structures or micropatterns of superconducting boron-doped diamond, which would be the basis for many potential devices.
Another ongoing research line is the investigation of promising bismuth-antimony alloys, specifically ranging from pure Bi to about 20% of Sb doping. In amorphous state, they are appealing superconducting materials with critical temperatures about 6 K. They are considered potential candidates for topological superconductivity, an emergent research field with a lot of promising expectations for quantum computing, among others. Although Bi-Sb alloys unfortunately tend to crystallize unless at very low temperatures, we are working out several hypotheses and strategies to overcome such difficulties.