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Reaching the quantum limit of sensitivity in electron spin resonance

Bienfait, A; Pla, JJ; Kubo, Y; Stern, M; Zhou, X; Lo, CC; Weis, CD; ... Bertet, P; + view all (2016) Reaching the quantum limit of sensitivity in electron spin resonance. Nature Nanotechnology , 11 (3) pp. 253-257. 10.1038/nnano.2015.282. Green open access

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Abstract

The detection and characterization of paramagnetic species by electron spin resonance (ESR) spectroscopy is widely used throughout chemistry, biology and materials science, from in vivo imaging to distance measurements in spin-labelled proteins. ESR relies on the inductive detection of microwave signals emitted by the spins into a coupled microwave resonator during their Larmor precession. However, such signals can be very small, prohibiting the application of ESR at the nanoscale (for example, at the single-cell level or on individual nanoparticles). Here, using a Josephson parametric microwave amplifier combined with high-quality-factor superconducting microresonators cooled at millikelvin temperatures, we improve the state-of-the-art sensitivity of inductive ESR detection by nearly four orders of magnitude. We demonstrate the detection of 1,700 bismuth donor spins in silicon within a single Hahn echo with unit signal-to-noise ratio, reduced to 150 spins by averaging a single Carr-Purcell-Meiboom-Gill sequence. This unprecedented sensitivity reaches the limit set by quantum fluctuations of the electromagnetic field instead of thermal or technical noise, which constitutes a novel regime for magnetic resonance. The detection volume of our resonator is ∼0.02 nl, and our approach can be readily scaled down further to improve sensitivity, providing a new versatile toolbox for ESR at the nanoscale.

Type: Article
Title: Reaching the quantum limit of sensitivity in electron spin resonance
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2015.282
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nnano.2015.282
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2016 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Electronic devices, Magnetic properties and materials, Quantum mechanics, Superconducting devices
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > London Centre for Nanotechnology
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1478525
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