Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Nanoscale imaging magnetometry with diamond spins under ambient conditions

Abstract

Magnetic resonance imaging and optical microscopy are key technologies in the life sciences. For microbiological studies, especially of the inner workings of single cells, optical microscopy is normally used because it easily achieves resolution close to the optical wavelength. But in conventional microscopy, diffraction limits the resolution to about half the wavelength. Recently, it was shown that this limit can be partly overcome by nonlinear imaging techniques1,2, but there is still a barrier to reaching the molecular scale. In contrast, in magnetic resonance imaging the spatial resolution is not determined by diffraction; rather, it is limited by magnetic field sensitivity, and so can in principle go well below the optical wavelength. The sensitivity of magnetic resonance imaging has recently been improved enough to image single cells3,4, and magnetic resonance force microscopy5 has succeeded in detecting single electrons6 and small nuclear spin ensembles7. However, this technique currently requires cryogenic temperatures, which limit most potential biological applications8. Alternatively, single-electron spin states can be detected optically9,10, even at room temperature in some systems11,12,13,14. Here we show how magneto-optical spin detection can be used to determine the location of a spin associated with a single nitrogen-vacancy centre in diamond with nanometre resolution under ambient conditions. By placing these nitrogen-vacancy spins in functionalized diamond nanocrystals, biologically specific magnetofluorescent spin markers can be produced. Significantly, we show that this nanometre-scale resolution can be achieved without any probes located closer than typical cell dimensions. Furthermore, we demonstrate the use of a single diamond spin as a scanning probe magnetometer to map nanoscale magnetic field variations. The potential impact of single-spin imaging at room temperature is far-reaching. It could lead to the capability to probe biologically relevant spins in living cells.

This is a preview of subscription content

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

$32.00

All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Nitrogen-vacancy defect in diamond.
Figure 2: Gradient imaging with single spins.
Figure 3: Scanning probe magnetometry.

References

  1. Willig, K. I., Rizzoli, S. O., Westphal, V., Jahn, R. & Hell, S. W. STED microscopy reveals that synaptotagmin remains clustered after synaptic vesicle exocytosis. Nature 440, 935–939 (2006)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Betzig, E. et al. Imaging intracellular fluorescent proteins at nanometer resolution. Science 313, 1642–1645 (2006)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Aguayo, J. B., Blackband, S. J., Schoeniger, J., Mattingly, M. A. & Hintermann, M. Nuclear-magnetic-resonance imaging of a single cell. Nature 322, 190–191 (1986)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Ciobanu, L., Seeber, D. A. & Pennington, C. H. 3D MR microscopy with resolution 3.7 μm by 3.3 μm by 3.3 μm. J. Magn. Reson. 158, 178–182 (2002)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Rugar, D., Yannoni, C. S. & Sidles, J. A. Mechanical detection of magnetic resonance. Nature 360, 563–566 (1992)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Rugar, D., Budakian, R., Mamin, H. J. & Chui, B. W. Single spin detection by magnetic resonance force microscopy. Nature 430, 329–332 (2004)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Mamin, H. J., Poggio, M., Degen, C. L. & Rugar, D. Nuclear magnetic resonance imaging with 90-nm resolution. Nature Nanotechnol. 2, 301–306 (2007)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Glover, P. & Mansfield, P. Limits to magnetic resonance microscopy. Rep. Prog. Phys. 65, 1489–1511 (2002)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Kohler, J. et al. Magnetic resonance of a single molecular spin. Nature 363, 242–244 (1993)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Wrachtrup, J., von Borczyskowski, C., Bernard, J., Orrit, M. & Brown, R. Optical detection of magnetic resonance in a single molecule. Nature 363, 244–245 (1993)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Hanson, R., Dobrovitski, V. V., Feiguin, A. E., Gywat, O. & Awschalom, D. D. Coherent dynamics of a single spin interacting with an adjustable spin bath. Science 320, 352–355 (2008)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Gruber, A. et al. Scanning confocal optical microscopy and magnetic resonance on single defect centers. Science 276, 2012–2014 (1997)

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Epstein, R. J., Mendoza, F. M., Kato, Y. K. & Awschalom, D. D. Anisotropic interactions of a single spin and dark-spin spectroscopy in diamond. Nature Phys. 1, 94–98 (2005)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Childress, L. et al. Coherent dynamics of coupled electron and nuclear spin qubits in diamond. Science 314, 281–285 (2006)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Fu, C. C. et al. Characterization and application of single fluorescent nanodiamonds as cellular biomarkers. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 104, 727–732 (2007)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Liu, K. K., Cheng, C. L., Chang, C. C. & Chao, J. I. Biocompatible and detectable carboxylated nanodiamond on human cell. Nanotechnology 18, 325102 (2007)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Neugart, F. et al. Dynamics of diamond nanoparticles in solution and cells. Nano Lett. 7, 3588–3591 (2007)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Chernobrod, B. M. & Berman, G. P. Spin microscope based on optically detected magnetic resonance. J. Appl. Phys. 97, 014903– (2005)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Kuhn, S., Hettich, C., Schmitt, C., Poizat, J. P. H. & Sandoghdar, V. Diamond colour centres as a nanoscopic light source for scanning near-field optical microscopy. J. Microsc. 202, 2–6 (2001)

    MathSciNet  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Taylor, J. M. et al. High-sensitivity diamond magnetometer with nanoscale resolution. Nature Phys. (in the press); preprint at 〈http://arXiv.org/abs/0805.1367v1〉 (2008)

  21. Gaebel, T. et al. Room-temperature coherent coupling of single spins in diamond. Nature Phys. 2, 408–413 (2006)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Maze, J. R. et al. Nanoscale magnetic sensing with an individual electronic spin in diamond. Nature 10.1038/nature07279 (this issue)

Download references

Acknowledgements

We thank M. D. Lukin for drawing our attention to advanced echo-based techniques, and R. Kamella for technical assistance. This work was supported by the EU (QAP, EQUIND, NANO4DRUGS, NEDQIT), DFG (SFB/TR21 and FOR730) and Landesstiftung BW.

Author Contributions G.B., I.Y.C, R.K., M.A.-H., J.T., C.S., C.K., A.W., J.W. and F.J. performed the experiments; A.K. prepared diamond nanocrystals; T.H., A.L. and R.B. prepared magnetic nanostructures; P.R.H., J.W. and F.J. designed and coordinated the experiments; and F.J. wrote the paper. All authors discussed the results, analysed the data and commented on the manuscript.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Fedor Jelezko.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Figures

This file contains Supplementary Figures S1-S7 with Legends (PDF 1377 kb)

PowerPoint slides

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Balasubramanian, G., Chan, I., Kolesov, R. et al. Nanoscale imaging magnetometry with diamond spins under ambient conditions. Nature 455, 648–651 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature07278

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/nature07278

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing