Physicists in the US are the first to make an integrated device that extracts photons from a tiny piece of diamond before the light is sent through a waveguide to the outside world. The photons all have the same frequency and originate in a nitrogen vacancy (NV), which is a defect that occurs in diamond when two neighbouring carbon atoms are replaced by a nitrogen atom and an empty lattice site. According to the researchers, the chip could be used to create quantum-information technology such as quantum repeaters.
Researchers are particularly interested in extracting photons that do not interact with the surrounding lattice because these "zero phonon line" (ZPL) photons have a well defined frequency. Unfortunately, one challenge in building NV-based quantum systems is how to reliably get ZPL photons out of the diamond and into an integrated optical system, where it can be processed further. What Andrei Faraon and colleagues from Caltech, Hewlett Packard and the University of Washington have managed to do is to create an integrated optical system that does just that.
You can get free access to the paper at the New Journal of Physics website.
Notice that this work was partly funded by DARPA.