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Nanoscale nuclear magnetic imaging with chemical contrast

Nature Nanotechnology volume 10, pages 125128 (2015) | Download Citation

Abstract

Scanning probe microscopy is one of the most versatile windows into the nanoworld, providing imaging access to a variety of electronic1, dielectric2, magnetic3 and topographic4,5 sample properties, depending on the probe used. Here, we demonstrate a scanning probe imaging method that extends the range of accessible quantities to label-free imaging of chemical species while operating on arbitrary samples—including insulating materials—under ambient conditions. Moreover, its sensitivity extends below the surface of a sample, allowing for imaging of subsurface features. We achieve these results by recording NMR signals from a sample surface with a recently introduced scanning probe, a single nitrogen–vacancy centre in diamond. We demonstrate NMR imaging with 10 nm resolution and achieve chemically specific contrast by separating fluorine from hydrogen-rich regions. Our result opens the door to scanning probe imaging of the chemical composition and molecular structure of arbitrary samples. A method with these abilities will find widespread application in materials science, even on biological specimens down to the level of single macromolecules.

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Acknowledgements

The authors acknowledge support from the EU (via ERC grant SQUTEC and integrated projects Diadems and SIQS), DARPA (Quasar), the DFG (via research group 1493 and SFB/TR21) and contract research of the Baden–Württemberg Foundation. The authors thank K. Karrai and the attocube team for discussions and technical support.

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Affiliations

  1. 3. Physikalisches Institut, Universität Stuttgart, Pfaffenwaldring 57, 70569 Stuttgart, Germany

    • T. Häberle
    • , D. Schmid-Lorch
    • , F. Reinhard
    •  & J. Wrachtrup
  2. Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research, Heisenbergstraße 1, 70569 Stuttgart, Germany

    • J. Wrachtrup

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Contributions

F.R. and J.W. conceived the idea and supervised the project. T.H. conducted the experiments and analysed the data. D.S-L. and T.H. prepared the samples. T.H., F.R. and J.W. wrote the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to F. Reinhard.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nnano.2014.299

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