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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2023
  2. Disorder and many body interactions are known to impact transport and thermalization in competing ways, with the dominance of one or the other giving rise to fundamentally different dynamical phases. Here we investigate the spin diffusion dynamics of 13 C in diamond, which we dynamically polarize at room temperature via optical spin pumping of engineered color centers. We focus on low-abundance, strongly hyperfine-coupled nuclei, whose role in the polarization transport we expose through the integrated impact of variable radio-frequency excitation on the observable bulk 13 C magnetic resonance signal. Unexpectedly, we find good thermal contact throughout the nuclear spin bath, virtually independent of the hyperfine coupling strength, which we attribute to effective carbon-carbon interactions mediated by the electronic spin ensemble. In particular, observations across the full range of hyperfine couplings indicate the nuclear spin diffusion constant takes values up to two orders of magnitude greater than that expected from homo-nuclear spin couplings.
  3. Color-center–hosting semiconductors are emerging as promising source materials for low-field dynamic nuclear polarization (DNP) at or near room temperature, but hyperfine broadening, susceptibility to magnetic field heterogeneity, and nuclear spin relaxation induced by other paramagnetic defects set practical constraints difficult to circumvent. Here, we explore an alternate route to color-center–assisted DNP using nitrogen-vacancy (NV) centers in diamond coupled to substitutional nitrogen impurities, the so-called P1 centers. Working near the level anticrossing condition—where the P1 Zeeman splitting matches one of the NV spin transitions—we demonstrate efficient microwave-free 13 C DNP through the use of consecutive magnetic field sweeps and continuous optical excitation. The amplitude and sign of the polarization can be controlled by adjusting the low-to-high and high-to-low magnetic field sweep rates in each cycle so that one is much faster than the other. By comparing the 13 C DNP response for different crystal orientations, we show that the process is robust to magnetic field/NV misalignment, a feature that makes the present technique suitable to diamond powders and settings where the field is heterogeneous. Applications to shallow NVs could capitalize on the greater physical proximity between surface paramagnetic defects and outer nuclei to efficiently polarize target samples in contact with themore »diamond crystal.« less
  4. A broad effort is underway to improve the sensitivity of NMR through the use of dynamic nuclear polarization. Nitrogen vacancy (NV) centers in diamond offer an appealing platform because these paramagnetic defects can be optically polarized efficiently at room temperature. However, work thus far has been mainly limited to single crystals, because most polarization transfer protocols are sensitive to misalignment between the NV and magnetic field axes. Here we study the spin dynamics of NV−13C pairs in the simultaneous presence of optical excitation and microwave frequency sweeps at low magnetic fields. We show that a subtle interplay between illumination intensity, frequency sweep rate, and hyperfine coupling strength leads to efficient, sweep-direction-dependent13C spin polarization over a broad range of orientations of the magnetic field. In particular, our results strongly suggest that finely tuned, moderately coupled nuclear spins are key to the hyperpolarization process, which makes this mechanism distinct from other known dynamic polarization channels. These findings pave the route to applications where powders are intrinsically advantageous, including the hyperpolarization of target fluids in contact with the diamond surface or the use of hyperpolarized particles as contrast agents for in vivo imaging.