Spin-based nanolytics – Turning today’s quantum technology research frontier into tomorrow’s diagnostic devices

Thanks to their unmatched specificity, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and electron spin resonance (ESR) spectroscopy – jointly referred to as spin-based analytics – are tools of major importance in biology, chemistry, medicine and physics because they allow for the use of a spin (nuclear or electron) as an extremely sensitive, nanoscopic quantum probe of its electronic and magnetic environment inside a molecule.

However, their main limitations are high equipment complexity and cost as well as a relatively poor sensitivity due to the very small thermal polarisation of the spin ensembles at room temperature. This poor sensitivity in turn severely compromises the required measurement time, the achievable signal-to-noise ratio and the minimum sample size.

The goal of NanoSpin is to change this situation by utilizing an entirely novel approach towards spin-based analytics which uses diamond and silicon carbide based quantum technologies as its key element. Realising this goal requires the combination of leading expertise from widely different disciplines including theoretical and experimental quantum physics, chemistry, material science and engineering. Thanks to the interdisciplinary nature of our team, we are able to provide the required theoretical, experimental, sensor- and instrumentation-related building blocks to achieve an overall performance greatly beyond the current state-of-the-art. More specifically, NanoSpin will leverage the immense power associated with colour centres in (nano)diamonds and silicon carbide to establish the new discipline of nanoscale-NMR and enable dynamic hyperpolarisation with unprecedented enhancement factors.

Our interdisciplinary consortium, which comprises several of the pioneers of colour centre quantum technology, will tackle this ambitious goal using a comprehensive approach incorporating advanced chemistry for the synthesis of specifically tailored colour centres, cutting edge quantum control theory to obtain full control of the quantum spin dynamics and exploiting integrated circuit and cleanroom technology to realise the required sensor and control hardware in a cost-efficient and easy-to-use format. Finally, the NanoSpin consortium also embraces leading experts in small-volume and flow NMR spectroscopy to ensure a maximum relevance of the researched tools.

The medium-term vision of NanoSpin is to establish the required hardware and software tools, which are necessary to further push today’s research frontier in colour centre based quantum sensing for spin-based analytics. Then, with those tools available in the next generation of instruments, spin-based analytics with its great diagnostic power will be turned into an easy-to-use, in-field method, which will have transformative effects on the emerging fields of personalized medicine and home diagnostics.

NanoSpin graphical abstract


  • Coordinator: Jens Anders (University of Stuttgart, Institute of Smart Sensors, DE)
  • Martin Plenio (University of Ulm, DE)
  • Fedor Jelezko (University of Ulm, DE)
  • Ilai Schwartz (NVision, DE)
  • Milos Nesladek (Hasselt University, BE)
  • Adam Gali (Wigner Research Centre for Physics, HU)
  • Aldrik Velders (Wageningen University, NL)
  • Petr Cigler (Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the Czech Academy of Sciences, CZ)