(MiageNews) A new type of atomic sensor made of boron nitride has been presented by researchers from Julius-Maximilians-Universität (JMU) Würzburg in Bavaria, Germany in “Nature Communications”. The sensor is based on a qubit in the crystal lattice and the researches report it is superior to comparable sensors.
An artificially created spin defect (qubit) in a crystal lattice of boron nitride is suitable as a sensor enabling the measurement of different changes in its local environment. The qubit is a boron vacancy located in a two-dimensional layer of hexagonal boron nitride and has an angular momentum (spin).
So far, the researchers have demonstrated the functionality of the sensor on a large ensemble of several million spin defects. Next, they want to show sensing with single spin defects. If this succeeds, an application on the nanometre scale would be feasible.
Atomic sensors based on spin defects already exist: they are made of diamond or silicon carbide and are suitable for local measurements of temperature and magnetic field. “Our boron nitride sensor provides an additional response to external pressure changes and exceeds the sensitivity of previous systems, especially at low temperatures,” explains Gottscholl, physics doctoral student at JMU is first author of the publication in the journal Nature Communications, which presents the new sensor.
“Particularly interesting is the idea of using boron nitride of only one atomic layer, thus the sensor is positioned directly on the surface of the investigated system,” says Professor Vladimir Dyakonov, head of the Chair of Experimental Physics VI at Julius-Maximilians-Universität (JMU) Würzburg in Bavaria, Germany. This would allow direct interaction with the immediate environment.
The defect is very sensitively to its atomic environment, for example to the distances to other atoms or atomic layers.
“This allows local measurements of magnetic fields, temperature and even pressure,” says Professor Dyakonov. Measurements are performed completely optically using a laser – therefore, the sensor does not require any electrical contact.