Dark spins light up

October 25, 2005

Want to see a diamond? Forget the jewellery store - try a physics laboratory. In the November issue of Nature Physics, Ryan Epstein and colleagues demonstrate the power of their microscope for imaging individual nitrogen atoms that sit at vacant sites in the diamond structure.

Such ‘vacancy’ centres have a long lifetime within the diamond host and could be used as the basis for a room-temperature quantum computer.

Because of the potential application as a bit of quantum information, the single magnetic spin (pointing up or down) associated with the extra electron of a nitrogen atom has featured in many different experiments.

The latest involves a room-temperature microscope that detects light emitted by a nitrogen vacancy centre. Through their precise control of the alignment of the magnetic field, the researchers can also detect local non-luminescing impurities that couple to the nitrogen vacancy centres.

The vacancy centres light the way to neighbouring 'dark' spins that normally would not be detected. These dark spins have a longer life-time than that of the vacancy atoms, and could be potentially more useful for applications involving quantum information processing.

Publication:
Anisotropic interactions of a single spin and dark-spin spectroscopy in diamond

R. J. Epstein, F. M. Mendoza, Y. K. Kato, D. D. Awschalom

Nature Physics (16 Oct 2005) Letters
DOI: 10.1038/nphys141

Source: Nature

Explore further: Quantum states in a nano-object manipulated using a mechanical system

Related Stories

Magnetism at nanoscale

August 3, 2015

As the demand grows for ever smaller, smarter electronics, so does the demand for understanding materials' behavior at ever smaller scales. Physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory are building a unique ...

Recommended for you

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.