Single-proton spin detection by diamond magnetometry



Extending magnetic resonance imaging to the atomic scale has been a long-standing aspiration, driven by the prospect of directly mapping atomic positions in molecules with three-dimensional spatial resolution. We report detection of individual, isolated proton spins by a nitrogen-vacancy (NV) center in a diamond chip covered by an inorganic salt. The single-proton identity was confirmed by the Zeeman effect and by a quantum coherent rotation of the weakly coupled nuclear spin. Using the hyperfine field of the NV center as an imaging gradient, we determined proton-NV distances of less than 1 nm.

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