Excited-state spin coherence of a single nitrogen–vacancy centre in diamond

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Nitrogen–vacancy centres in diamond are a solid-state analogue of trapped atoms, with fine structure in both the ground and excited states that may be used for advanced quantum control. These centres are promising candidates for spin-based quantum information processing1,2,3 and magnetometry4,5,6 at room temperature. Knowledge of the excited-state (ES) structure and coherence is critical to evaluating the ES as a room-temperature quantum resource, for example for a fast, optically gated swap operation with a nuclear-spin memory7. Here we report experiments that probe the ES-spin coherence of single nitrogen–vacancy centres. Using a combination of pulsed-laser excitation and nanosecond-scale microwave manipulation, we observed ES Rabi oscillations, and multipulse resonant control enabled us to study coherent ES electron/nuclear-spin interactions. To understand these processes, we developed a finite-temperature theory of ES spin dynamics that also provides a pathway towards engineering longer ES spin coherence.

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Figure 1: Optical relaxation of NV centres.
Figure 2: ES spin dynamics of a single NV centre.
Figure 3: Ramsey measurement of the ES hyperfine interaction.
Figure 4: ES Hahn-echo measurement of spin dephasing.


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We gratefully acknowledge support from the AFOSR, ARO and DARPA. Work at the Ames Laboratory was supported by the Department of Energy—Basic Energy Sciences under contract No DE- AC02-07CH11358.

Author information

The experiment was designed and analysed by G.D.F., V.V.D., D.M.T., F.J.H., and D.D.A. Measurements were made by G.D.F., D.M.T., and F.J.H. Samples were designed and fabricated by G.D.F., D.M.T., F.J.H., C.D.W., T.S., and D.D.A. All authors contributed to writing the paper.

Correspondence to D. D. Awschalom.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Fuchs, G., Dobrovitski, V., Toyli, D. et al. Excited-state spin coherence of a single nitrogen–vacancy centre in diamond. Nature Phys 6, 668–672 (2010) doi:10.1038/nphys1716

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