Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors
Heifer International



Home > Press > Zooming way in, technique offers close-ups of electrons, nuclei

Abstract:
Diamond-based magnetic imaging could prove a boon in materials science, biology, medicine

Zooming way in, technique offers close-ups of electrons, nuclei

Cambridge, MA | Posted on October 2nd, 2008

Providing a glimpse into the infinitesimal, physicists have found a novel way of spying on some of the universe's tiniest building blocks.

Their "camera," described this week in the journal Nature, consists of a special "flaw" in diamonds that can be manipulated into sensitively monitoring magnetic signals from individual electrons and atomic nuclei placed nearby.

The new work represents a dramatic sharpening of the basic approach used in nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which ascertain chemical structures and image inside human bodies by scanning the magnetic activity of billions of individual nuclei. The new diamond-based magnetic sensor could enable novel forms of imaging, marrying NMR's noninvasive nature with atomic-scale spatial resolution, potentially benefiting fields ranging from materials science, spintronics, and quantum information to structural biology, neuroscience, and biomedicine.

Among other applications, the new research could make it possible to peer inside proteins, map the structure of impossibly intricate molecules, closely observe the dynamics of microscopic biochemical processes, monitor the activity of neural circuits, or use single electrons and nuclei for storing and processing information. Some of these applications were recently described by the authors in a separate contribution published online Sept. 14 in the journal Nature Physics.

"Although some existing magnetic field sensors have higher sensitivity, they probe magnetic fields over large volumes of space," says Mikhail D. Lukin, professor of physics in Harvard University's Faculty of Arts and Sciences. "The combination of excellent sensitivity and nanoscale spatial resolution that we demonstrate is completely unique. Potentially, it may allow one to image single nuclei in individual molecules."

The collaborative research, led by Lukin and Harvard physicists Amir Yacoby and Ronald L. Walsworth, involved scientists from Harvard, the Smithsonian Institution, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Pittsburgh.

The work builds on a Science paper published last year by Lukin and colleagues. That paper reported that single atoms of carbon-13 -- which make up some 1.1 percent of natural diamond -- can be manipulated via a nearby single electron that can, in turn, be controlled by focusing laser light on a diamond lattice flaw where nitrogen replaces an atom of carbon. Such excitation using optical and microwave radiation causes the diamond flaw's electron spin to act as a very sensitive magnetic probe with extraordinary spatial resolution.

An electron's spin, or intrinsic angular momentum, acts like a tiny magnet, providing one of the few outwardly detectable signs of an atom's location. An atomic nucleus can also have a spin, but because a nucleus is much heavier than an electron, its magnetic field is a thousand times smaller, making it much harder to detect.

"Our magnetic sensor is based on a single electronic spin associated with an impurity or flaw in a small diamond crystal. We managed to turn our understanding of quantum information physics into an extraordinary measuring apparatus," says Yacoby, professor of physics at Harvard. "A nanocrystal of diamond containing this specific type of impurity could be placed on the tip of a needle as a minuscule probe of extremely weak magnetic fields, such as those generated by the spin of an electron or even an atomic nucleus."

The 2007 work effectively brought the futuristic technology of quantum information systems into the realm of solid-state materials under ordinary conditions; the current research builds on that advance to develop new nanometer-scale magnetic sensors that could have important new implications in imaging of a variety of materials, biological compounds, and tissues.

"Precision sensing of magnetic fields is at the forefront of a wide range of scientific fields -- from nanoscience to bioimaging," says Walsworth, senior lecturer on physics at Harvard and senior physicist at the Smithsonian. "Potential nanoscale applications of the diamond magnetic sensor include detection of individual electron and nuclear spins in complex biological molecules, and serving as a universal 'quantum magnetic head' for addressing and readout of quantum bits of information encoded in an electron or nuclear spin memory."

Accompanying this work in the current issue of Nature is a report from scientists at the University of Stuttgart who've obtained the first scanning images using a diamond magnetic sensor.

"This is a case where the sum of two contributions is really greater than their parts," says Lukin. "Together, they really jump-start a new research field."

Lukin, Yacoby, and Walsworth's co-authors on the Nature paper are Jeronimo Maze, Sungkun Hong, Liang Jiang, Emre Togan, and Alexander Zibrov, all at Harvard; Paul Stanwix of the Smithsonian; Jonathan Hodges at Harvard and MIT; Jacob Taylor at MIT; and M.V. Gurudev Dutt at Pittsburgh. The work was supported by the National Science Foundation, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Packard Foundation, and Harvard's Center for Nanoscale Systems.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Steve Bradt

617-496-8070

Copyright © Harvard University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Virginia Tech physicists propose path to faster, more flexible robots: Virginia Tech physicists revealed a microscopic phenomenon that could greatly improve the performance of soft devices, such as agile flexible robots or microscopic capsules for drug delivery May 17th, 2024

Gene therapy relieves back pain, repairs damaged disc in mice: Study suggests nanocarriers loaded with DNA could replace opioids May 17th, 2024

Shedding light on perovskite hydrides using a new deposition technique: Researchers develop a methodology to grow single-crystal perovskite hydrides, enabling accurate hydride conductivity measurements May 17th, 2024

Oscillating paramagnetic Meissner effect and Berezinskii-Kosterlitz-Thouless transition in cuprate superconductor May 17th, 2024

Imaging

Nanoscale CL thermometry with lanthanide-doped heavy-metal oxide in TEM March 8th, 2024

First direct imaging of small noble gas clusters at room temperature: Novel opportunities in quantum technology and condensed matter physics opened by noble gas atoms confined between graphene layers January 12th, 2024

The USTC realizes In situ electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy using single nanodiamond sensors November 3rd, 2023

Observation of left and right at nanoscale with optical force October 6th, 2023

Sensors

Innovative sensing platform unlocks ultrahigh sensitivity in conventional sensors: Lan Yang and her team have developed new plug-and-play hardware to dramatically enhance the sensitivity of optical sensors April 5th, 2024

$900,000 awarded to optimize graphene energy harvesting devices: The WoodNext Foundation's commitment to U of A physicist Paul Thibado will be used to develop sensor systems compatible with six different power sources January 12th, 2024

A color-based sensor to emulate skin's sensitivity: In a step toward more autonomous soft robots and wearable technologies, EPFL researchers have created a device that uses color to simultaneously sense multiple mechanical and temperature stimuli December 8th, 2023

New tools will help study quantum chemistry aboard the International Space Station: Rochester Professor Nicholas Bigelow helped develop experiments conducted at NASA’s Cold Atom Lab to probe the fundamental nature of the world around us November 17th, 2023

Discoveries

Virginia Tech physicists propose path to faster, more flexible robots: Virginia Tech physicists revealed a microscopic phenomenon that could greatly improve the performance of soft devices, such as agile flexible robots or microscopic capsules for drug delivery May 17th, 2024

Diamond glitter: A play of colors with artificial DNA crystals May 17th, 2024

Finding quantum order in chaos May 17th, 2024

Advances in priming B cell immunity against HIV pave the way to future HIV vaccines, shows quartet of new studies May 17th, 2024

Announcements

Virginia Tech physicists propose path to faster, more flexible robots: Virginia Tech physicists revealed a microscopic phenomenon that could greatly improve the performance of soft devices, such as agile flexible robots or microscopic capsules for drug delivery May 17th, 2024

Diamond glitter: A play of colors with artificial DNA crystals May 17th, 2024

Finding quantum order in chaos May 17th, 2024

Oscillating paramagnetic Meissner effect and Berezinskii-Kosterlitz-Thouless transition in cuprate superconductor May 17th, 2024

Tools

First direct imaging of small noble gas clusters at room temperature: Novel opportunities in quantum technology and condensed matter physics opened by noble gas atoms confined between graphene layers January 12th, 2024

New laser setup probes metamaterial structures with ultrafast pulses: The technique could speed up the development of acoustic lenses, impact-resistant films, and other futuristic materials November 17th, 2023

Ferroelectrically modulate the Fermi level of graphene oxide to enhance SERS response November 3rd, 2023

The USTC realizes In situ electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy using single nanodiamond sensors November 3rd, 2023

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project