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A diamond voltage imaging microscope

Abstract

Technologies that capture the complex electrical dynamics occurring in biological systems, across fluid membranes and at solid–liquid interfaces are important for furthering fundamental understanding and innovation in diverse fields from neuroscience to energy storage. However, the capabilities of existing voltage imaging techniques utilizing microelectrode arrays, scanning probes or optical fluorescence methods are limited by resolution, scan speed and photostability, respectively. Here we report an optoelectronic voltage imaging system that overcomes these limitations by using nitrogen-vacancy defects as charge-sensitive fluorescent reporters embedded within a transparent semiconducting diamond device. Electrochemical tuning of the diamond surface termination enables photostable optical voltage imaging with a quantitative linear response at biologically relevant voltages and timescales. This technology represents a major step towards label-free, large-scale and long-term voltage recording of physical and biological systems with sub-micrometre spatial resolution.

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Fig. 1: Principles of diamond voltage imaging microscopy.
Fig. 2: Imaging microelectrode charge injection dynamics.
Fig. 3: Characterization of voltage-sensitive diamond optrode array.
Fig. 4: Comparison with existing neuronal voltage imaging technology and demonstration of fast signal detection.

Data availability

Source data used in the production of this work is available via Zenodo at https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.6717484.

Code availability

Custom data analysis and simulation code used in the production of this work is available via Zenodo at https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.6717484.

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Acknowledgements

We thank W. Tong for providing poly-d-lysine and assisting with the coating process. We thank G. Berecki and S. Petrou for helpful discussions. D.A.S. and L.T.H. were supported by the Australian Research Council (ARC) through Discovery Project 200103712. L.T.H. was supported by the ARC through DECRA 2001011785. A.S. was supported by the ARC through DECRA 190100336. A.N. was supported by the ARC through Linkage 190100528. L.C.L.H. was supported by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology. D.J.M. was supported by an Australian Government Graduate Research Training Scholarship. This work was performed in part at the Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication (MCN) in the Victorian Node of the Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF).

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Authors

Contributions

D.J.M., N.D. and D.A.S. developed the technological concepts and designed the experiments with input from A.S., S.P. and L.C.L.H. The devices were designed and fabricated by D.J.M. and N.D. with input from A.N. Hydrogen termination was performed by A.S. with input from D.J.M. The electrochemical oxidation procedure was performed by C.P. with input from D.J.M. and N.D. Microelectrode measurements and corresponding data analysis were performed by D.J.M. and N.D. with input from L.T.H. The equivalent circuit model was developed by D.J.M. Optrode array measurements and data analysis were performed by D.J.M. with input from N.D. and L.T.H. The original manuscript draft was written by D.J.M., N.D. and D.A.S. All the authors contributed to reviewing and editing the manuscript. L.C.L.H., S.P. and D.A.S. supervised the work.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to D. J. McCloskey or D. A. Simpson.

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Competing interests

D.J.M., N.D., A.S. and D.A.S. are authors on a provisional patent granted to The University of Melbourne covering the fabrication of the NV0/+ ensemble chip and its use in voltage sensing applications (IP Australia patent no. 2021901331). S.P. is a director and shareholder of Carbon Cybernetics, a company developing a diamond-based neural implant. The remaining authors declare no competing interests.

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Nature Photonics thanks Fedor Jelezko and Milos Nesladek for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figs. 1–7, Tables 1–4, Notes 1–4, Video 1, Methods 1 and references.

Supplementary Video 1

DVIM recording of a spatiotemporal voltage transient.

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McCloskey, D.J., Dontschuk, N., Stacey, A. et al. A diamond voltage imaging microscope. Nat. Photon. 16, 730–736 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41566-022-01064-1

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