Nature’s Own Trapped Atom: Coherent Optical Control of the Nitrogen-Vacancy Center
The nitrogen-vacancy (NV) center, an atom-like defect in diamond, has emerged as a promising platform for applications in quantum information science and quantum metrology. NV centers can be manipulated much like single trapped atoms. We can address them individually using optical microscopy, control their electronic spin using microwave radiation, and drive coherent optical transitions, at cryogenic temperatures, between electronic orbital states. However, the fact that an NV center is surrounded not by vacuum but by a solid diamond lattice presents both experimental challenges and interesting opportunities.
We use the NV center’s atom-like properties to probe its interactions with the diamond lattice. I will describe how phonons, quantized lattice vibrations, can negatively impact our ability to drive coherent optical transitions but also enable a wide range of metrology applications under ambient conditions. I will also discuss our recent efforts to optically manipulate nuclear spins embedded in the diamond lattice.