Detection of molecular transitions with nitrogen-vacancy centers and electron-spin labels Articles uri icon

publication date

  • November 2022

start page

  • 140


  • 8

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2056-6387


  • We present a protocol that detects molecular conformational changes with two nitroxide electron-spin labels and a nitrogen-vacancy (NV) center in diamond. More specifically, we demonstrate that the NV can detect energy shifts induced by the coupling between electron-spin labels. The protocol relies on the judicious application of microwave and radiofrequency pulses in a range of parameters that ensures stable nitroxide resonances. Furthermore, we demonstrate that our scheme is optimized by using nitroxides with distinct nitrogen isotopes. We develop a simple theoretical model that we combine with Bayesian inference techniques to demonstrate that our method enables the detection of conformational changes in ambient conditions including strong NV dephasing rates as a consequence of the diamond surface proximity and nitroxide thermalization mechanisms. Finally, we counter-intuitively show that with our method the small residual effect of random molecular tumbling becomes a resource that can be exploited to extract inter-label distances.