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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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.
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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