Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Spatial mapping of band bending in semiconductor devices using in situ quantum sensors


Local variations in the charge distribution at semiconductor interfaces can lead to energy level band bending in the structure’s band diagram. Measuring this band bending is important in semiconductor electronics and quantum technologies, but current methods are typically only surface sensitive and are unable to probe the extent of band bending at a depth within the semiconductor. Here, we show that nitrogen–vacancy centres in diamond can be used as in situ sensors to spatially map band bending in a semiconductor device. These nitrogen–vacancy quantum sensors probe the electric field associated with surface band bending, and we map the electric field at different depths under various surface terminations. Using a two-terminal device based on the conductive two-dimensional hole gas formed at a hydrogen-terminated diamond surface, we also observe an unexpected spatial modulation of the electric field, which is attributed to the interplay between charge injection and photo-ionization effects (from the laser used in the experiments). Our method offers a route to the three-dimensional mapping of band bending in diamond and other semiconductors that host suitable quantum sensors.

This is a preview of subscription content

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: Mapping band bending with in situ quantum sensors.
Fig. 2: Electric field versus implantation depth and surface termination.
Fig. 3: Electric field in a two-terminal device.

Data availability

The data underlying the present work are available upon request from the corresponding authors.


  1. 1.

    Zhang, Z. & Yates, J. T. Band bending in semiconductors: chemical and physical consequences at surfaces and interfaces. Chem. Rev. 112, 5520–5551 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Kotadiya, N. B. et al. Universal strategy for Ohmic hole injection into organic semiconductors with high ionization energies. Nat. Mater. 17, 329–334 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Simon, J., Protasenko, V., Lian, C., Xing, H. & Jena, D. Polarization-induced hole doping in wide-band-gap uniaxial semiconductor heterostructures. Science 327, 60–64 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Stathis, J. & Zafar, S. The negative bias temperature instability in MOS devices: a review. Microelectron. Reliab. 46, 270–286 (2006).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Zhang, P. et al. Electronic transport in nanometre-scale silicon-on-insulator membranes. Nature 439, 703–706 (2006).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Kaczer, B. et al. A brief overview of gate oxide defect properties and their relation to MOSFET instabilities and device and circuit time-dependent variability. Microelectron. Reliab. 81, 186–194 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Weber, J. R. et al. Quantum computing with defects. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 107, 8513–8518 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Kaviani, M. et al. Proper surface termination for luminescent near-surface NV centers in diamond. Nano. Lett. 14, 4772–4777 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Usman, M. et al. Spatial metrology of dopants in silicon with exact lattice site precision. Nat. Nanotech. 11, 763–768 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Kronik, L. & Shapira, Y. Surface photovoltage phenomena: theory, experiment, and applications. Surf. Sci. Rep. 37, 1–206 (1999).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Ishii, H. et al. Kelvin probe study of band bending at organic semiconductor/metal interfaces: examination of Fermi level alignment. Phys. Stat. Sol. A 201, 1075–1094 (2004).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Butler, C. J. et al. Mapping polarization induced surface band bending on the Rashba semiconductor BiTeI. Nat. Commun. 5, 4066 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Degen, C. L., Reinhard, F. & Cappellaro, P. Quantum sensing. Rev. Mod. Phys. 89, 035002 (2017).

    MathSciNet  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Schirhagl, R., Chang, K., Loretz, M. & Degen, C. L. Nitrogen–vacancy centers in diamond: nanoscale sensors for physics and biology. Annu. Rev. Phys. Chem. 65, 83–105 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Rondin, L. et al. Magnetometry with nitrogen–vacancy defects in diamond. Rep. Prog. Phys. 77, 056503 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Casola, F., Van Der Sar, T. & Yacoby, A. Probing condensed matter physics with magnetometry based on nitrogen–vacancy centres in diamond. Nat. Rev. Mater. 3, 17088 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Tetienne, J.-P. et al. Nanoscale imaging and control of domain-wall hopping with a nitrogen–vacancy center microscope. Science 344, 1366–1369 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Du, C. et al. Control and local measurement of the spin chemical potential in a magnetic insulator. Science 357, 195–198 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Kolkowitz, S. et al. Probing Johnson noise and ballistic transport in normal metals with a single-spin qubit. Science 347, 1129 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Tetienne, J.-P. et al. Quantum imaging of current flow in graphene. Sci. Adv. 3, e1602429 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Doherty, M. W. et al. The nitrogen–vacancy colour centre in diamond. Phys. Rep. 528, 1–45 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Dolde, F. et al. Electric-field sensing using single diamond spins. Nat. Phys. 7, 459–463 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Dolde, F. et al. Nanoscale detection of a single fundamental charge in ambient conditions using the NV–center in diamond. Phys. Rev. Lett. 112, 097603 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Pezzagna, S. et al. Creation of colour centres in diamond by collimated ion implantation through nano-channels in mica. Phys. Stat. Sol. A 208, 2017–2022 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Ohno, K. et al. Engineering shallow spins in diamond with nitrogen delta-doping. Appl. Phys. Lett. 101, 082413 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Lesik, M. et al. Production of bulk NV centre arrays by shallow implantation and diamond CVD overgrowth. Phys. Stat. Sol. A 213, 2594–2600 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Iwasaki, T. et al. Direct nanoscale sensing of the internal electric field in operating semiconductor devices using single electron spins. ACS Nano 11, 1238–1245 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Zhang, Q. et al. Single rare-earth ions as atomic-scale probes in ultra-scaled transistors. Preprint at (2018).

  29. 29.

    Falk, A. L. et al. Electrically and mechanically tunable electron spins in silicon carbide color centers. Phys. Rev. Lett. 112, 187601 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Wolfowicz, G., Whiteley, S. J. & Awschalom, D. D. Electrometry by optical charge conversion of deep defects in 4H-SiC. Preprint at (2018).

  31. 31.

    Tetienne, J.-P. et al. Spin properties of dense near-surface ensembles of nitrogen–vacancy centers in diamond. Phys. Rev. B 97, 085402 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    Lehtinen, O. et al. Molecular dynamics simulations of shallow nitrogen and silicon implantation into diamond. Phys. Rev. B 93, 35202 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. 33.

    Stacey, A. et al. Evidence for primal sp2 defects at the diamond surface: candidates for electron trapping and noise sources. Preprint at (2018).

  34. 34.

    Doherty, M. W. et al. Theory of the ground-state spin of the NV center in diamond. Phys. Rev. B 85, 205203 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    Strobel, P., Riedel, M., Ristein, J. & Ley, L. Surface transfer doping of diamond. Nature 430, 439 (2004).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    Maier, F., Riedel, M., Mantel, B., Ristein, J. & Ley, L. Origin of surface conductivity in diamond. Phys. Rev. Lett. 85, 3472–3475 (2000).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. 37.

    Pakes, C. I., Garrido, J. A. & Kawarada, H. Diamond surface conductivity: Properties, devices, and sensors. MRS. Bull. 39, 542–548 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. 38.

    Hauf, M. V. et al. Chemical control of the charge state of nitrogen–vacancy centers in diamond. Phys. Rev. B 83, 081304 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. 39.

    Dhomkar, S., Jayakumar, H., Zangara, P. R. & Meriles, C. A. Charge dynamics in near-surface, variable-density ensembles of nitrogen–vacancy centers in diamond. Nano. Lett. 18, 4046–4052 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. 40.

    Chicot, G. et al. Hole transport in boron delta-doped diamond structures. Appl. Phys. Lett. 101, 162101 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. 41.

    Scharpf, J. et al. Transport behaviour of boron delta-doped diamond. Phys. Stat. Sol. A 210, 2028–2034 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. 42.

    Kawarada, H. High-current metal oxide semiconductor field-effect transistors on H-terminated diamond surfaces and their high-frequency operation. Jpn. J. Appl. Phys. 51, 090111 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. 43.

    Kasu, M. Diamond field-effect transistors for RF power electronics: Novel NO2 hole doping and low-temperature deposited Al2O3 passivation. Jpn. J. Appl. Phys. 56, 01AA01 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. 44.

    Edmonds, M. T. et al. Spin–orbit interaction in a two-dimensional hole gas at the surface of hydrogenated diamond. Nano. Lett. 15, 16–20 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. 45.

    Akhgar, G. et al. G-factor and well width variations for the two-dimensional hole gas in surface conducting diamond. Appl. Phys. Lett. 112, 042102 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. 46.

    Myers, B. A. et al. Probing surface noise with depth-calibrated spins in diamond. Phys. Rev. Lett. 113, 027602 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. 47.

    Rosskopf, T. et al. Investigation of surface magnetic noise by shallow spins in diamond. Phys. Rev. Lett. 112, 147602 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. 48.

    Romach, Y. et al. Spectroscopy of surface-induced noise using shallow spins in diamond. Phys. Rev. Lett. 114, 017601 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. 49.

    Rose, B. C. et al. Observation of an environmentally insensitive solid-state spin defect in diamond. Science 361, 60–63 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. 50.

    Chang, K., Eichler, A., Rhensius, J., Lorenzelli, L. & Degen, C. L. Nanoscale imaging of current density with a single-spin magnetometer. Nano. Lett. 17, 2367–2373 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. 51.

    Lovchinsky, I. et al. Nuclear magnetic resonance detection and spectroscopy of single proteins using quantum logic. Science 351, 836–841 (2016).

    MathSciNet  Article  MATH  Google Scholar 

  52. 52.

    Kim, C. K. et al. Temperature control for the gate workfunction engineering of TiC film by atomic layer deposition. Solid. State. Electron. 114, 90–93 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. 53.

    Hauf, M. V. et al. Low dimensionality of the surface conductivity of diamond. Phys. Rev. B 89, 115426 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. 54.

    Akhgar, G. et al. Strong and tunable spin–orbit coupling in a two-dimensional hole gas in ionic-liquid gated diamond devices. Nano. Lett. 16, 3768–3773 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. 55.

    Simpson, D. A. et al. Magneto-optical imaging of thin magnetic films using spins in diamond. Sci. Rep. 6, 22797 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


We thank M. Barson, D. Simpson and L. Hall for useful discussions. We acknowledge support from the Australian Research Council (grants CE110001027, DE170100129, FL130100119, DP170102735). J.-P.T acknowledges support from the University of Melbourne through an Early Career Researcher Grant. D.A.B, A.T, S.E.L and C.T.-K.L are supported by an Australian Government Research Training Program 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).

Author information




NV measurements and analysis were performed by D.A.B and J.-P.T, with inputs from M.W.D. The devices were fabricated by N.D and D.A.B, H-terminated by A.T and A.S, and electrically characterized by C.T-K.L and B.C.J. The band bending model was developed by N.D with inputs from D.A.B, J.-P.T, A.S and L.C.L.H. All authors contributed to interpreting the data and writing the manuscript.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to L. C. L. Hollenberg or J.-P. Tetienne.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher’s note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Tables 1 and 2, Supplementary Figures 1–15, Supplementary Methods 1 and 2, and Supplementary Data 1–3

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Broadway, D.A., Dontschuk, N., Tsai, A. et al. Spatial mapping of band bending in semiconductor devices using in situ quantum sensors. Nat Electron 1, 502–507 (2018).

Download citation

Further reading


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing