Sensing electric fields using single diamond spins

Source: arXiv


The ability to sensitively detect charges under ambient conditions would be a
fascinating new tool benefitting a wide range of researchers across
disciplines. However, most current techniques are limited to low-temperature
methods like single-electron transistors (SET), single-electron electrostatic
force microscopy and scanning tunnelling microscopy. Here we open up a new
quantum metrology technique demonstrating precision electric field measurement
using a single nitrogen-vacancy defect centre(NV) spin in diamond. An AC
electric field sensitivity reaching ~ 140V/cm/\surd Hz has been achieved. This
corresponds to the electric field produced by a single elementary charge
located at a distance of ~ 150 nm from our spin sensor with averaging for one
second. By careful analysis of the electronic structure of the defect centre,
we show how an applied magnetic field influences the electric field sensing
properties. By this we demonstrate that diamond defect centre spins can be
switched between electric and magnetic field sensing modes and identify
suitable parameter ranges for both detector schemes. By combining magnetic and
electric field sensitivity, nanoscale detection and ambient operation our study
opens up new frontiers in imaging and sensing applications ranging from
material science to bioimaging.

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Available from: Marcus William Doherty