Nanoscale detection of a single fundamental charge in ambient conditions using the NV- center in diamond

Phys Rev Lett. 2014 Mar 7;112(9):097603. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.112.097603. Epub 2014 Mar 3.


Single charge nanoscale detection in ambient conditions is a current frontier in metrology that has diverse interdisciplinary applications. Here, such single charge detection is demonstrated using two nitrogen-vacancy (NV) centers in diamond. One NV center is employed as a sensitive electrometer to detect the change in electric field created by the displacement of a single electron resulting from the optical switching of the other NV center between its neutral (NV(0)) and negative (NV(-)) charge states. As a consequence, our measurements also provide direct insight into the charge dynamics inside the material.