A key requirement for many applications in solid-state quantum sciences is a high fluence of indistinguishable photons. The spontaneous emission of these photons is governed by the coupling of an excited quantum system to electromagnetic vacuum fluctuations.
In our experiment, we enhance this coupling by engineering a tunable Fabry-Perot microcavity. The quantum system we study is the nitrogen-vacancy (NV) center in diamond, a workhorse for quantum science and engineering, due to its optical transitions and the coherent electron spin system it hosts. Our device consists of a high-quality, nano-fabricated, single-crystalline diamond membrane bonded to a planar mirror; the cavity is completed by a second, concave mirror. Using piezo positioners, we achieve full spectral and spatial tunability and freedom in selecting NVs with favorable emission properties in our low-temperature (4 Kelvin) experiments.
Upon tuning of the cavity into resonance, we find significant enhancement of the 637 nm zero phonon line for several individual NVs which is accompanied by a strong reduction of the overall photoluminescence (PL) lifetime. We infer a 30-fold enhancement of the zero-phonon transition rate at best. The fraction of the PL emission associated to this resonant transition is thereby increased from 3% to 46%.
Our results constitute a significant leap on the route towards the implementation of fast long-distance quantum networks, which are currently limited by the photon emission rate in their nodes. Furthermore, our versatile design is readily applicable to other solid-state quantum emitters like color centers in silicon carbide.