Fluorescent nanodiamonds as quantum bio-molecular probes for live cell imaging and sensing

Towards super-resolution imaging in quantum physics and life sciences

Project leader: A. Radenovic (EPFL)

Team: B. Rothen-Rutishauser, A. Fink, M. Mayer, F. Stellacci, S. Vanni

Fluorescent nanodiamonds (FNDs) are carbon-based nanoscale particles which are currently on the focus of the scientific community due to their biocompatibility and unique properties for sensing and imaging. Multiple studies have shown in the last years the potential of FNDs for the study of cell dynamics at the moleculer level via single particle tracking (SPT). This project seeks to develop an optical detection technology based on the exceptional sensing capabilities of negatively charged Nitrogen-Vacancy (NV) color centers in diamond. The NV center represents one of the most sensitive magnetic, electric and temperature field probes at sub-100-nm distances at room temperature, which makes it an ideal candidate for imaging and probing the inner cellular environment. In addition to its remarkable sensing capabilities, NV fluorescence is extremely bright and photostable and can be deterministically modulated through microwave manipulation of its spin-triplet ground state, which allows for a new kind of super-resolution imaging technique with low excitation power. The outcome of this project has the potential to open a new gate for nanoscale sensing and metrology in areas ranging from quantum physics to life sciences, as it links diamond photonics to single molecule trap and scanning in the vicinity of, or even inside, living cells.

Main investigator

Involved people