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Ultralong spin coherence time in isotopically engineered diamond

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As quantum mechanics ventures into the world of applications and engineering, materials science faces the necessity to design matter to quantum grade purity. For such materials, quantum effects define their physical behaviour and open completely new (quantum) perspectives for applications. Carbon-based materials are particularly good examples, highlighted by the fascinating quantum properties of, for example, nanotubes1 or graphene2. Here, we demonstrate the synthesis and application of ultrapure isotopically controlled single-crystal chemical vapour deposition (CVD) diamond with a remarkably low concentration of paramagnetic impurities. The content of nuclear spins associated with the 13C isotope was depleted to 0.3% and the concentration of other paramagnetic defects was measured to be <1013 cm−3. Being placed in such a spin-free lattice, single electron spins show the longest room-temperature spin dephasing times ever observed in solid-state systems (T2=1.8 ms). This benchmark will potentially allow observation of coherent coupling between spins separated by a few tens of nanometres, making it a versatile material for room-temperature quantum information processing devices. We also show that single electron spins in the same isotopically engineered CVD diamond can be used to detect external magnetic fields with a sensitivity reaching 4 nT Hz−1/2 and subnanometre spatial resolution.

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Figure 1: Nitrogen-vacancy defect in diamond.
Figure 2: Coherence time of single spins.
Figure 3: Diamond magnetometry.
Figure 4: Measurement of an external magnetic field using the spin echo technique.

Change history

  • 14 April 2009

    In the version of this Letter originally published online, the family name of one of the co-authors, Norikazu Mizuochi, was spelt incorrectly; it is correct here, and has now been corrected in the HTML and PDF versions.


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This work was supported by the EU (QAP, EQUIND, NANO4DRUGS, NEDQIT), DFG (SFB/TR21 and FOR730), Landesstiftung BW and the Volkswagen Stiftung. P.R.H. acknowledges support by the NIH and DARPA.

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G.B., P.N., R.K., N.M., J.B., J.T., V.J., P.R.H. and F.J. carried out the experiments; D.T., M.M. and J.A. designed and carried out synthesis of diamond material. All authors discussed the results, analysed the data and commented on the manuscript. J.W. wrote the paper.

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Correspondence to Fedor Jelezko or Jörg Wrachtrup.

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Balasubramanian, G., Neumann, P., Twitchen, D. et al. Ultralong spin coherence time in isotopically engineered diamond. Nature Mater 8, 383–387 (2009).

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