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Nanoscale magnetic imaging of a single electron spin under ambient conditions

Nature Physics volume 9, pages 215219 (2013) | Download Citation

Abstract

The detection of ensembles of spins under ambient conditions has revolutionized the biological, chemical and physical sciences through magnetic resonance imaging1 and nuclear magnetic resonance2,3. Pushing sensing capabilities to the individual-spin level would enable unprecedented applications such as single-molecule structural imaging; however, the weak magnetic fields from single spins are undetectable by conventional far-field resonance techniques4. In recent years, there has been a considerable effort to develop nanoscale scanning magnetometers5,6,7,8, which are able to measure fewer spins by bringing the sensor in close proximity to its target. The most sensitive of these magnetometers generally require low temperatures for operation, but the ability to measure under ambient conditions (standard temperature and pressure) is critical for many imaging applications, particularly in biological systems. Here we demonstrate detection and nanoscale imaging of the magnetic field from an initialized single electron spin under ambient conditions using a scanning nitrogen-vacancy magnetometer. Real-space, quantitative magnetic-field images are obtained by deterministically scanning our nitrogen-vacancy magnetometer 50 nm above a target electron spin, while measuring the local magnetic field using dynamically decoupled magnetometry protocols. We discuss how this single-spin detection enables the study of a variety of room-temperature phenomena in condensed-matter physics with an unprecedented combination of spatial resolution and spin sensitivity.

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Acknowledgements

We gratefully acknowledge Element Six, for providing diamond samples for our NV sensors and targets. M.S.G. is supported through fellowships from the Department of Defense (NDSEG programme) and the National Science Foundation. S.H. acknowledges support from the Kwanjeong Scholarship Foundation, and P.M. thanks the Swiss National Science Foundation for fellowship funding. This work was supported by the DARPA QuEST and QuASAR programmes and the MURI QuISM.

Author information

Author notes

    • M. S. Grinolds
    • , S. Hong
    •  & P. Maletinsky

    These authors contributed equally to this work

Affiliations

  1. Department of Physics, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA

    • M. S. Grinolds
    • , P. Maletinsky
    • , L. Luan
    • , M. D. Lukin
    • , R. L. Walsworth
    •  & A. Yacoby
  2. School of Engineering and Applied Science, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02138, USA

    • S. Hong
  3. Department of Physics, University of Basel, Basel, 4056 Switzerland, Switzerland

    • P. Maletinsky
  4. Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA

    • R. L. Walsworth

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All authors contributed to all aspects of this work.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to A. Yacoby.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/nphys2543

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