Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and magnetic resonance imaging at the ultimate sensitivity limit of single molecules or single nuclear spins requires fundamentally new detection strategies. The strong coupling regime, when interaction between sensor and sample spins dominates all other interactions, is one such strategy. In this regime, classically forbidden detection of completely unpolarized nuclei is allowed, going beyond statistical fluctuations in magnetization. Here we realize strong coupling between an atomic (nitrogen–vacancy) sensor and sample nuclei to perform nuclear magnetic resonance on four 29Si spins. We exploit the field gradient created by the diamond atomic sensor, in concert with compressed sensing, to realize imaging protocols, enabling individual nuclei to be located with Angstrom precision. The achieved signal-to-noise ratio under ambient conditions allows single nuclear spin sensitivity to be achieved within seconds.
C. Müller et al.
Nature Communications 5 (2014).