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What diamonds can tell us about Biology?

What diamonds can tell us about Biology?

What diamonds can tell us about Biology?

Author(s):  Romana Schirhagl

Publication: Bunsenmagazin, Issue 5 2018, Aspekte, Seiten: 184 -193

Publisher: Deutsche Bunsen-Gesellschaft für physikalische Chemie e.V., Frankfurt

Language: English

DOI: 10.26125/mr6j-dj63

 

Introduction

Diamonds are so popular they almost do not need an introduction. But beyond the sparkle diamond have also less known and to my opinion even more exciting properties. They are among the hardest materials on earth and are commonly used as abrasives as well as for drilling or cutting. Due to their unique optical properties they are used in all kinds of instruments as for example in infrared spectroscopy measuring cells or as optical elements. Due to their low electrical conductivity and high thermal conductivity, a rare combination of properties, they are also used in all kinds of electronic devices like transistors[1], sensors[2] or other applications like catalysts[3]. Many of these devices are outperformed by conventional devices (from other materials) at room temperature. However, under harsh conditions like high pressure, high temperature or high power applications, the diamond devices can shine, whereas the competition often does not function at all under these conditions[4].

Here I would like to focus on yet another unique property of diamond. The quantum information field first recognized that diamonds can contain very stable defects and their magneto-optical properties[5]. Since they are extremely photo stable and never bleach these defects in particles are investigated as biolabels[6, 7, 8]. They change their optical properties based on their magnetic surrounding. This means that the defects can convert a magnetic resonance signal into an optical signal. Since optical signals are much easier to detect (they are higher in energy and thus can be measured by photon counting) this technique reaches unprecedented sensitivity. In fact this method is so sensitive that the faint signal of a single electron[9] or of a few nuclear spins[10, 11, 12] can be detected. And since optical signals can also be located very accurately this technique achieves nanoscale resolution.

 

Cite this: Romana Schirhagl (2018): What diamonds can tell us about Biology?. Bunsenmagazin 2018, 5: 184-193. Frankfurt am Main: Deutsche Bunsen-Gesellschaft für physikalische Chemie e.V. DOI: 10.26125/mr6j-dj63

 

 

 

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[70] Personal communication with Arne Wickenbrock

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