Letter | Published:

Proton magnetic resonance imaging using a nitrogen–vacancy spin sensor

Nature Nanotechnology volume 10, pages 120124 (2015) | Download Citation

Abstract

Magnetic resonance imaging, with its ability to provide three-dimensional, elementally selective imaging without radiation damage, has had a revolutionary impact in many fields, especially medicine and the neurosciences. Although challenging, its extension to the nanometre scale could provide a powerful new tool for the nanosciences, especially if it can provide a means for non-destructively visualizing the full three-dimensional morphology of complex nanostructures, including biomolecules1. To achieve this potential, innovative new detection strategies are required to overcome the severe sensitivity limitations of conventional inductive detection techniques2. One successful example is magnetic resonance force microscopy3,4, which has demonstrated three-dimensional imaging of proton NMR with resolution on the order of 10 nm, but with the requirement of operating at cryogenic temperatures5,6. Nitrogen–vacancy (NV) centres in diamond offer an alternative detection strategy for nanoscale magnetic resonance imaging that is operable at room temperature7. Here, we demonstrate two-dimensional imaging of 1H NMR from a polymer test sample using a single NV centre in diamond as the sensor. The NV centre detects the oscillating magnetic field from precessing protons as the sample is scanned past the NV centre. A spatial resolution of 12 nm is shown, limited primarily by the scan resolution.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank B. Myers and A. Jayich for discussions. This work was supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) QuASAR programme, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Center for Probing the Nanoscale at Stanford University (National Science Foundation grant PHY-0830228) and the IBM Corporation.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. IBM Research Division, Almaden Research Center, San Jose, California 95120, USA

    • D. Rugar
    • , H. J. Mamin
    • , M. H. Sherwood
    • , M. Kim
    •  & C. T. Rettner
  2. Center for Probing the Nanoscale, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA

    • M. Kim
  3. Center for Spintronics and Quantum Computation, University of California, Santa Barbara, California 93106, USA

    • K. Ohno
    •  & D. D. Awschalom
  4. Institute for Molecular Engineering, University of Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA

    • D. D. Awschalom

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Contributions

D.R. and H.J.M. built the apparatus, performed the imaging experiments and analysed the data. M.H.S. prepared the PMMA sample, annealed and acid-cleaned the diamond, and provided temperature control. M.K. tested NV diamond samples and the scanning apparatus. K.O. and D.D.A. synthesized and characterized carbon-12 diamond layers. C.T.R. fabricated microwires. D.R. wrote the manuscript and incorporated comments from all authors.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to D. Rugar.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nnano.2014.288

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