Department or Program


Primary Wellesley Thesis Advisor

Robert Berg


The nitrogen-vacancy (NV) center is a defect in the structure of diamond, roughly the size of a single atom, that possesses properties that make it applicable to quantum information processing, high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging, and probing biological systems. When an NV center is excited by green light of wavelength 523 nm, it emits red light of in the range from 600-800 nm tens of nanoseconds later. A confocal microscope can be used to excite and collect emitted photons from NV centers. By detecting the intensity of the emitted red photons, we can determine the quantum state of a single NV center, which is needed to build various quantum computing, sensing and imaging devices. The autocorrelation method is used to detect antibunching in the emission of red photons and ascertain that the observed photons are being emitted from a single NV center. We have built an autocorrelation device that measures, with sub-nanosecond accuracy, the statistical distribution of the arrival times of the red photons emitted from a diamond sample at a photon counter. The device can measure fixed time values with a time resolution of 120 ps FWHM. For uncorrelated sources measured for 120 seconds at the TAC full range of 100 ns, the average counts in each histogram bin were about 0.01% of the predicted value. The autocorrelation device that we have built costs about 10 times less than commercial units used by other NV researchers.