Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Diamond 'flaws' pave way for nanoscale MRI

Date:
November 24, 2013
Source:
University of Cambridge
Summary:
Breakthrough offers high-sensitivity nanoscale sensors, and could lead to magnetic imaging of neuron activity and thermometry on a single living cell.

This image shows nanodiamonds.
Credit: H.S Knowles and C.H.H Schulte

By exploiting flaws in miniscule diamond fragments, researchers say they have achieved enough coherence of the magnetic moment inherent in these defects to harness their potential for precise quantum sensors in a material that is 'biocompatible'.

Related Articles


Nanoscopic thermal and magnetic field detectors -- which can be inserted into living cells -- could enhance our understanding of everything from chemical reactions within single cells to signalling in neural networks and the origin of magnetism in novel materials.

Atomic impurities in natural diamond structure give rise to the colour seen in rare and coveted pink, blue and yellow diamond. But these impurities are also a major research focus in emerging areas of quantum physics.

One such defect, the Nitrogen-vacancy Centre (NVC), consists of a gap in the crystal lattice next to a nitrogen atom. This system tightly traps electrons whose spin states can be manipulated with extreme precision.

Electron coherence -- the extent to which the spins of these particles can sustain their quantum mechanical properties -- has been achieved to high levels in the NVCs of large 'bulk' diamonds, with coherence times of an entire second in certain conditions -- the longest yet seen in any solid material.

However in nanodiamonds -- nanometer sized crystals that can be produced by milling conventional diamond -- any acceptable degree of coherence has, until now, proved elusive.

Nanodiamonds offer the potential for both extraordinarily precise resolution, as they can be positioned at the nano-scale, and biocompatibility -- as they have can be inserted into living cells. But without high levels of coherence in their NVCs to carry information, these unique nanodiamond benefits cannot be utilised.

By observing the spin dynamics in nanodiamond NVCs, researchers at Cambridge's Cavendish Laboratory, have now identified that it is the concentration of nitrogen impurities that impacts coherence rather than interactions with spins on the crystal surface.

By controlling the dynamics of these nitrogen impurities separately, they have increased NVC coherence times to a record 0.07 milliseconds longer than any previous report, an order of significant magnitude -- putting nanodiamonds back in play as an extremely promising material for quantum sensing.

The results are published today in the journal Nature Materials.

"Our results unleash the potential of the smallest magnetic field and temperature detector in the world. Nanodiamond NVCs can sense the change of such features within a few tens of nanometres -- no other sensor has ever had this spatial resolution under ambient conditions," said Helena Knowles, a researcher on the study.

"We now have both high spin coherence and spatial resolution, crucial for various quantum technologies."

Dr Dhiren Kara, who also worked on the study, points out that the nanodiamond's biocompatibility can provide non-invasive optical access to magnetic changes within a living cell -- essentially the ability to perform MRI and detect, for instance, a cell's reaction to a drug in real time.

"We may also be able to answer some key questions in material science, such as magnetic ordering at the edges of graphene or the origin of magnetism in oxide materials," Kara said.

Dr Mete Atature, director of the research, added: "The pursuit of simultaneous high NVC coherence and high spatial resolution, and the fact that nanodiamonds couldn't deliver on this promise until now, has required researchers to invest in alternative means including advanced nanofabrication techniques, which tends to be both expensive and low-yield."

"The simplest solution -- feasible and inexpensive -- was in front of us the whole time."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Cambridge. The original story is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Helena S. Knowles, Dhiren M. Kara, Mete Atatόre. Observing bulk diamond spin coherence in high-purity nanodiamonds. Nature Materials, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/nmat3805

Cite This Page:

University of Cambridge. "Diamond 'flaws' pave way for nanoscale MRI." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131124200502.htm>.
University of Cambridge. (2013, November 24). Diamond 'flaws' pave way for nanoscale MRI. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131124200502.htm
University of Cambridge. "Diamond 'flaws' pave way for nanoscale MRI." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131124200502.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

NASA's First 3-D Printer In Space Creates Its First Object

NASA's First 3-D Printer In Space Creates Its First Object

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) — The International Space Station is now using a proof-of-concept 3D printer to test additive printing in a weightless, isolated environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — Innovative recycling project in La Paz separates city waste and converts plastic garbage into school furniture made from 'plastiwood'. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) — Researchers at Northwestern University are repurposing Blu-ray movies for better solar panel technology thanks to the discs' internal structures. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) — Advances in prosthetics are making replacement body parts stronger and more lifelike than they’ve ever been. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins