Published August 22, 2022 | Version v1
Journal article Open

Divergent Effects of Laser Irradiation on Ensembles of Nitrogen-Vacancy Centers in Bulk and Nanodiamonds: Implications for Biosensing

  • 1. Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia
  • 2. University of Torino
  • 3. University of Wuerzburg
  • 4. University of Turin; Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia



Ensembles of negatively charged nitrogen-vacancy centers (NV) in diamond have been proposed for sensing of magnetic fields and paramagnetic agents, and as a source of spin-order for the hyperpolarization of nuclei in magnetic resonance applications. To this end, strongly fluorescent nanodiamonds (NDs) represent promising materials, with large surface areas and dense ensembles of NV. However, surface effects tend to favor the less useful neutral form, the NV0 centers, and strategies to increase the density of shallow NV centers have been proposed, including irradiation with strong laser power (Gorrini in ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 13:43221–43232, 2021). Here, we study the fluorescence properties and optically detected magnetic resonance (ODMR) of NV centers as a function of laser power in strongly fluorescent bulk diamond and in nanodiamonds obtained by nanomilling of the native material. In bulk diamond, we find that increasing laser power increases ODMR contrast, consistent with a power-dependent increase in spin-polarization. Conversely, in nanodiamonds we observe a non-monotonic behavior, with a decrease in ODMR contrast at higher laser power. We hypothesize that this phenomenon may be ascribed to more efficient NV→NV0 photoconversion in nanodiamonds compared to bulk diamond, resulting in depletion of the NV pool. A similar behavior is shown for NDs internalized in macrophage cells under the typical experimental conditions of imaging bioassays. Our results suggest strong laser irradiation is not an effective strategy in NDs, where the interplay between surface effects and local microenvironment determine the optimal experimental conditions.


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AlternativesToGd – Hyperpolarised MR technologies and molecular probes as alternatives for conventional metal-containing contrast agents for MRI examinations 858149
European Commission