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Nanodiamonds in Biolabelling,

Diamond Magnetometry and

Quantum Computing Devices

The Potential for Nanodiamonds

(Follows after Nature Nanotechnology
DOI: 10.1038/NNANO.2010.56
“Observation and control of blinking
nitrogen-vacancy centres in discrete nanodiamonds”)

Nanodiamonds can be produced by the detonation of a mixture of the explosives TNT/

RDX and have a size range in the region of 5 nm.
Although the industrial uses of diamond colloids are well known as abrasives, lapping
compounds, engine oil additives and dry lubricants, at the 5 nm size scale, the current at-
traction to scientists is the presence of nitrogen vacancies (N-V) within the nanodiamond,
commonly known as “Colour Centres”, due to their ability to either absorb or emit light.
Specifically, this scientific interest centres on the property of the nanodiamond to fluo-
resce and the fact the optical signal emitted by the nitrogen vacancy is highly sensitive to
weak magnetic fields.
The image on the left illustrates the “fluores-
cence map” of the nitrogen vacancy centres
in nanodiamond crystals.
The image on the right illustrates the atomic
force microscopy (AFM) map of the nanodia-
mond profiles taken with the NT-MDT Probe
NanoLaboratory NTEGRA Spectra.

Image Credit: A/Prof. James Rabeau, Quantum Materials and Applications group,
Department of Physics and Astronomy, Macquarie University (Sydney, Australia)

The Technological Options for Nanodiamonds

The use of nanodiamonds in fluorescent biolabels is attracting considerable interest as it
is possible to attach these 5 nm particles to other molecules and then “map” their prog-
ress through a network of cells.
Recent work published in Nature Nanotechnology (DOI: 10.1038/NNANO.2010.56) has
also highlighted evidence for “blinking” or intermittent luminescence of nanodiamonds,
with an additional comment that it may also be possible to control the “blinking” by sur-
face modifications of the nanodioamonds.

Diamond Magnetometry
The NV colour centres in nanodiamonds can sense some of the weakest magnetic fields.
The change in the optical signal from the NV colour centre can even detect the changes in
magnetic fields caused by variations in nuclear spins.
Nanodiamonds in Biolabelling,
Diamond Magnetometry and
Quantum Computing Devices

In essence, such magnetic field measurement would be monitored by scanning the nano-
diamond over a surface and recording the magnetic field as a change in optical signal.

One proposed set-up would be to use a probe as showed below, where the nanodiamond
is attached to the tip of an Atomic Force Microscope.

Image Credit: A/Prof. James Rabeau, Quantum Materi-

als and Applications group, Department of Physics and
Astronomy, Macquarie University (Sydney, Australia)

Nanodiamond Quantum Devices

Quantum computing relies on a fundamental building block known as a “Quantum Bit” or
“Qubit”.In the case of NV centres in nanodiamonds, the state of spin of the electrons can
be 0, 1 or a combination of the two. The spin being read by a magnetic resonance tech-
nique similar to the one described above and thereby enabling the 1-0 principle required
for digital computing.

Equipment for the Analysis of Nanodiamonds

Probe NanoLaboratory NTEGRA Spectra is a unique integration of AFM and confocal mi-
croscopy / luminescence and Raman scattering spectroscopy. The distinguishing feature
of NTEGRA Spectra is the capability of studying optical properties of objects beyond
usual diffraction limits.
Scanning Near-field Optical Microscopy and the effect of local Tip Enhanced Raman Scat-
tering (TERS) provides the researcher with the tools for mapping optical properties (light
transmission, light scattering, light polarization, etc.) as well as conducting Raman scat-
tering spectroscopy with flat XY resolution down to 50 nm.