Nanoscale nuclear magnetic resonance with chemical resolution

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Science  07 Jul 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6346, pp. 67-71
DOI: 10.1126/science.aam8697

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NMR on diamonds gets down to chemistry

Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy is immensely useful for chemical characterization, but it requires relatively large amounts of sample. Recent studies have leveraged nitrogen vacancy centers in diamond to detect NMR signals from samples of just a few cubic nanometers, but with low resolution. Aslam et al. optimized this technique to achieve a resolution of 1 part per million—sufficient to distinguish among alkyl, vinyl, and aryl protons in solution (see the Perspective by Bar-Gill and Retzker). They also demonstrated solid-state implementation and fluorine detection.

Science, this issue p. 67; see also p. 38


Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy is a key analytical technique in chemistry, biology, and medicine. However, conventional NMR spectroscopy requires an at least nanoliter-sized sample volume to achieve sufficient signal. We combined the use of a quantum memory and high magnetic fields with a dedicated quantum sensor based on nitrogen vacancy centers in diamond to achieve chemical shift resolution in 1H and 19F NMR spectroscopy of 20-zeptoliter sample volumes. We demonstrate the application of NMR pulse sequences to achieve homonuclear decoupling and spin diffusion measurements. The best measured NMR linewidth of a liquid sample was ~1 part per million, mainly limited by molecular diffusion. To mitigate the influence of diffusion, we performed high-resolution solid-state NMR by applying homonuclear decoupling and achieved a 20-fold narrowing of the NMR linewidth.

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