Imaging 3D spin textures with a quantum sensor

When magnets are brought to the third dimension, they provide a rich playground for fundamental physics [1]. The higher degrees of freedom available in 3D – and the new topologies and geometries that it makes possible – combine to produce many new effects, including exotic dynamic behaviours, and topological textures that occur on length scales of the order of nanometres [2,3].

However, to probe these 3D spin textures experimentally, we are currently limited to large scale facilities such as synchrotron light sources [4]. The ability to probe these systems using a table-top technique would not only allow us to make the most of the exciting potential of these spin systems, but would be directly applicable to a host of key challenges in condensed matter physics.

In this project we will explore three-dimensional spin systems using a state-of-the-art magnetometry technique based on a single spin nitrogen-vacancy centre. The nitrogen-vacancy (NV) center is an isolated quantum spin trapped in a diamond, of atomic size and with extreme ( 1 nT) sensitivity to magnetic field and high spatial resolution (50 nm) [5,6]. As it is a single spin, it represents a non-invasive probe, a key advantage for the investigation of spin textures. Furthermore, quantum spin techniques can be used to probe both static configurations and dynamic fluctuations, and across a wide temperature range.

There will be two sides to this project: first, you will become an expert in the novel technique of NV magnetometry, and secondly, you will make key advances in our understanding of 3D spin systems.


[1] A. Fernández-Pacheco, R. Streubel, O. Fruchart, R. Hertel, P. Fischer, and R.P. Cowburn
Three-dimensional nanomagnetism
Nature Communications 8, 15756 (2017)
[2] C. Donnelly, M. Guizar-Sicairos, V. Scagnoli, S. Gliga, M. Holler, J. Raabe and L. J. Heyderman
Three dimensional magnetisation structures revealed with X-ray vector nanotomography
Nature 547, 328 (2017)
[3] C. Donnelly, A. Hierro Rodriguez, C. Abert, S. Finizio, K. Witte, L. Skoric, J. Raabe, A. Fernandez-Pacheco
Complex free-space magnetic field textures induced by 3D magnetic nanostructures
Nature Nanotechnology 17, 136 (2022)
[4] C. Donnelly and V. Scagnoli
Imaging three-dimensional magnetic systems with X-rays
J. Phys.: Condens. Matter 32 21300 (2020)
[5] U. Vool, A. Hamo, G. Varnavides, Y. Wang, T. X. Zhou, N. Kumar, Y. Dovzhenko, Z. Qiu, C. A. C. Garcia, A. T. Pierce, J. Gooth, P. Anikeeva, C. Felser, P. Narang, A. Yacoby
Imaging phonon-mediated hydrodynamic flow in WTe2
Nature Physics 17, 1216–1220 (2021)
[6] P. Maletinsky, S. Hong, M. S. Grinolds, B. Hausmann, M. D. Lukin, R. L. Walsworth, M. Loncar, and A. Yacoby
A robust scanning diamond sensor for nanoscale imaging with single nitrogen-vacancy centres
Nature Nanotechnology 7, 320 (2012)

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