New Mechanism Developed that Detects Magnetic Field in All Direction

Researchers developed a mechanism that can simultaneously detect magnetic fields in various directions.

Searching for a device for measuring atomic-scale impurities in diamonds to detect magnetic field in every possible movement— firing neurons to condensed-matter systems—a team of researchers developed a unique method that can detect magnetic field in all direction. The pair of researchers, Schloss and Turner, Ph.D. candidates from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, worked with John Barry, faculty member in Harvard’s Center for Brain Science and the Department of Physics.

The researchers observed 4-millimeter-square wafer of diamond, while bombarding it with four different microwave signals, to simultaneously measure individual NV orientation response to different directions of a magnetic field. Each of the microwave signals was tuned to monitor a specific NV orientation and dithered according to a unique frequency modulation (FM) pattern. They found that each NV orientation responded differently in real time. Their findings were published in the journal Physical Review Applied on September 21, 2018.

Previously, researchers used NV centers in diamonds to detect neural signals in marine worms. Schloss said: “That was a great proof of principle. But a broadly useful neuroscience tool should be compatible with mammalian neurons. But that’s challenging because an array of firing neurons produces magnetic fields oriented in all directions. This technique solves that problem for neuron magnetic sensing and other future applications.”

The new method uses laser technology to polish diamond wafer in a lab-generated magnetic field, which results in fluoresce of the material. The brightness of NVs changes due to the movement of the magnetic field as well as the special FM microwave signal pattern. The tracking pattern of NV presents a 3-D picture of the magnetic field. The researchers hope that their principle of measuring magnetic field would help other fields such as biology, condensed-matter physics, and other department of science.

 

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