Universal enhancement of the optical readout fidelity of single electron spins at nitrogen-vacancy centers in diamond

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M. Steiner, P. Neumann, J. Beck, F. Jelezko, and J. Wrachtrup


Phys. Rev. B 81, 035205 (2010)

Precise readout of spin states is crucial for any approach toward physical realization of a spin-based quantum computer and for magnetometry with single spins. Here, we report a method to strongly improve the optical readout fidelity of electron spin states associated with single nitrogen-vacancy (NV) centers in diamond. The signal-to-noise ratio is enhanced significantly by performing conditional flip-flop processes between the electron spin and the nuclear spin of the NV center’s nitrogen atom. The enhanced readout procedure is triggered by a short preparatory pulse sequence. As the nitrogen nuclear spin is intrinsically present in the system, this method is universally applicable to any nitrogen-vacancy center. Besides the readout method, our studies included coherent control over a single nitrogen nuclear spin for the first time.