Innovation and Partnerships Office

Polarization of Nitrogen Vacancy Defects in Diamond for Rapid, High Sensitivity ODMR 2016-164


  • Optically-detected magnetic resonance (ODMR) spectroscopy


  • Enables rapid sample alignment
  • High signal-to-noise ratio enables study of low intensity or broad transitions
  • Can be implemented with existing laboratory equipment
  • Possibly applicable to other computer-controlled variables


Berkeley Lab’s Alex Pines and fellow researchers have transferred the polarization from nitrogen vacancy (NV) defect centers in diamond to surrounding nuclei in the diamond lattice to utilize the bulk properties of many defects. In this way, the fluorescence from the ensembles takes on a continuous value averaged over all the defects. Exploiting this signal rapidly accelerates the acquisition of a ODMR spectrum using a lock-in amplifier and amplitude-modulated microwave excitation. The technology enables rapid sample alignment and high speed, two-dimensional, field-versus-frequency spectroscopy.

ODMR spectra are obtained by comparing fluorescence from the defect with microwave excitation on-versus-off. However, this process is slow, and the signal-to-noise ratio is poor leading many to use the method to study single defects. The Berkeley Lab technology enables the study of bulk properties of many defects in a sample using equipment available in many laboratories. The technology may be extended to other computer-controlled variables such as orientation, position along the diamond, microwave power, or temperature.

DEVELOPMENT STAGE: In the researchers’ tests, the frequency increased for each spectrum from 1700 MHz to 4000 MHz in 1MHz increments. Each was acquired in less than one minute.

STATUS: Available for licensing or collaborative research.