Point defects in hexagonal boron nitride (hBN) have attracted growing attention as bright single-photon emitters. However, understanding of their atomic structure and radiative properties remains incomplete. Here we study the excited states and radiative lifetimes of over 20 native defects and carbon or oxygen impurities in hBN using ab initio density functional theory and GW plus Bethe-Salpeter equation calculations, generating a large data set of their emission energy, polarization and lifetime. We find a wide variability across quantum emitters, with exciton energies ranging from 0.3 to 4 eV and radiative lifetimes from ns to ms for different defect structures. Through a Bayesian statistical analysis, we identify various high-likelihood charge-neutral defect emitters, among which the native VNNBdefect is predicted to possess emission energy and radiative lifetime in agreement with experiments. Our work advances the microscopic understanding of hBN single-photon emitters and introduces a computational framework to characterize and identify quantum emitters in 2D materials.
Color centers in hexagonal boron nitride (hBN) are presently attracting broad interest as a novel platform for nanoscale sensing and quantum information processing. Unfortunately, their atomic structures remain largely elusive and only a small percentage of the emitters studied thus far have the properties required to serve as optically addressable spin qubits. Here, we use confocal fluorescence microscopy at variable temperatures to study a new class of point defects produced via cerium ion implantation in thin hBN flakes. We find that, to a significant fraction, emitters show bright room-temperature emission, and good optical stability suggesting the formation of Ce-based point defects. Using density functional theory (DFT) we calculate the emission properties of candidate emitters, and single out the CeVBcenter—formed by an interlayer Ce atom adjacent to a boron vacancy—as one possible microscopic model. Our results suggest an intriguing route to defect engineering that simultaneously exploits the singular properties of rare-earth ions and the versatility of two-dimensional material hosts.
- Publication Date:
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Journal Name:
- Optical Materials Express
- Page Range or eLocation-ID:
- Article No. 3478
- Optical Society of America
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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