Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) have been involved in almost all facets of science ranging from discovering unknowns within samples to expanding our knowledge of the human body. 

Although grand, these instruments have their limitations and it is through nitrogen-vacancy (NV) centers that these limitations will be abolished. The primary scale in which science can scan at the moment only reaches down to the micrometer and to go any further involves a large amount of money and time or specific subzero temperatures2

NV centers are able to circumvent the current expensive and temperature locked methods by not requiring external magnetic fields and using synthetic diamonds that can gather information at ambient temperatures1. NV centers are defects found within diamonds which have been proven to detect proton nuclear spins in samples within a volume of 5 cubic nanometers. When the sample, atop the diamond detector, is subjected to radio waves there is a fluorescent response measuring excitation and relaxation spins of the protons within the sample that is transformed into interpretable data by computers3

Although different from standard NMR and MRI instrumentation the use of magnetic resonance is the same. Imaging produced through the use of NV centers is still in the works as MRI is a form of NMR so too will its advance come once NMR is mastered under these new conditions.

Written by Jason Bingaman

     1.     Kemsley, J. “Taking NMR And MRI To The Nanoscale”, Chemical and Engineering News, Vol. 91 Issue 5 Pg. 4, February 4, 2013.
  2.     Reinhard, F. et al. “Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy on a (5-Nanometer)3 Sample Volume”.
        3.     Rugar, D. et al. “Nanoscale Nuclear Magnetic Resonance with a Nitrogen-Vacancy Spin Sensor”.