Measurement of a Single Nuclear Spin in Biological Samples

May 12, 2015
Fig. 1: The experimental setup

Fig 1: Set-up [Reprinted by permission from Macmillan Publishers Ltd: L. Trifunovic, F.L. Pedrocchi, S. Hoffman, P. Maletinsky, A. Yacoby & D. Loss, "High-efficiency resonant amplification of weak magnetic fields for single spin magnetometry at room temperature," Nature Nanotechnology (2015) doi:10.1038/nnano.2015.74]

Magnetic resonance techniques not only provide powerful imaging tools that have revolutionized medicine, but they have a wide spectrum of applications in other fields of science such as biology, chemistry, neuroscience and physics. However, the very low temperatures that are required for current state-of-the-art magnetometers represent a considerable drawback to imaging systems in many biological environments.

In a new an article published in Nature Nanotechnology, physicists from the University of Basel, RWTH Aachen University (Aachen, Germany), and Harvard, including Prof. Amir Yacoby, have demonstrated that the nuclear spins of single molecules can be detected with the help of magnetic particles at room temperature. Teh article describes a novel experimental setup with which the tiny magnetic fields of the nuclear spins of single biomolecules - undetectable so far - could be registered for the first time.

Read the article in Nature Nanotechnology and an announcement on phys.org