Detonation nanodiamond particles (DND) contain highly-stable nitrogen-vacancy (N-V) centers, making it important for quantum-optical and biotechnology applications. However, due to the small particle size, the N-V concentrations are believed to be intrinsically very low, spawning efforts to understand the formation of N-V centers and vacancies, and increase their concentration. Here we show that vacancies in DND can be detected and quantified using simulation-aided electron energy loss spectroscopy. Despite the small particle size, we find that vacancies exist at concentrations of about 1 at%. Based on this experimental finding, we use ab initio calculations to predict that about one fifth of vacancies in DND form N-V centers. The ability to directly detect and quantify vacancies in DND, and predict the corresponding N-V formation probability, has a significant impact to those emerging technologies where higher concentrations and better dispersion of N-V centres are critically required.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Materials Science(all)