We characterize coherent dynamics of closely-spaced dangling bond (DB) pairs positioned on a silicon surface and sharing an excess electron. We investigate whether a coupled-DB pair is a potential candidate for a charge qubit. A dangling bond is an atomic-scale entity that acts like a quantum dot. By shrinking the scale of the quantum dots and the spacing between them, we expect that the excess-electron tunneling rate increases dramatically with decreasing inter-dot separation, while decoherence scales weakly.
Our analysis of the coherent dynamics of coupled-DB pairs shows promise in this respect. The extremely high tunneling rate of the DB excess charge greatly exceeds the expected decoherence rates for a silicon-based system, thereby overcoming the critical obstacle of charge qubits for quantum computing purposes. However, this scaling advantage comes at the price of requiring rapid control and readout. We devise a scheme for measuring the DB-pair dynamics, but investigating the fast control is beyond the scope of this thesis.
Furthermore, we investigate the effect of the silicon-surface structure on the coherence of a coupled-DB pair. The silicon surface of interest is well patterned, but it has an anisotropic structure. Therefore, the coupling strength of a DB pair depends on the arrangement of the DBs on the silicon surface. We employ ab initio techniques and calculate the energy splitting for a wide variety of coupled DB-pair configurations on this surface.
The results show that the energy splitting (and consequently the tunneling rate of the DB-pair excess charge) is a function of the DBs’ location on the surface and also it strongly depends on the structural orientation of the DBs’ orbital. Based on the results, DB-pair configurations are categorized into four groups, such that the changing rate of energy splitting versus DB-pair separation is different among the groups. Knowing about the effect of the surface structure on the DB-pair energy splitting is especially useful when dealing with more complex systems such as DB subnanowires, quantum cellular automata cells, and quantum computing schemes. Also, the results help to have a better understanding of the coherence and bonding on this Si surface.
As mentioned earlier, the highly coherent dynamics of coupled-DB pairs comes at the price of being too fast to be directly measured by any conventional technique. We therefore devise a scheme to characterize tunneling of the DB excess charge by measuring the time-averaged charge distribution of the DB pair with an atomic force microscope. In our approach, a DB pair is capacitively coupled to an atomic force microscope tip in the presence of an electrostatic potential bias applied along the DB pair, and a tunable mid-infrared laser to drive the pair.
With a non-resonant laser field, the time-averaged charge distribution in the dangling-bond pair is asymmetric as imposed by the bias. However, as the laser becomes resonant with the coherent electron tunneling in the biased pair the theory predicts that the time-averaged charge distribution becomes symmetric. This resonant symmetry effect should not only reveal the tunneling rate, but also the nature and rate of decoherence of single-electron dynamics in our system.