Diamond Quantum Sensing in Biological Systems
AuthorMcCoey, Julia Madelaine
AffiliationSchool of Physics
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2020 Julia Madelaine McCoey
Biological discovery is fuelled by technological advances. As a new process is developed, a period of exploration tests the waters to uncover what the novel technology can reveal. This thesis presents the application of quantum sensing with negatively-charged nitrogen vacancy (NV) centres in diamond to real biological systems and questions. NV sensing provides a means to probe systems, including biosystems, in ways unavailable with other techniques. This is most evident in the NV’s magnetic sensitivity, along with a collection of attributes that lend it to biological settings. Many questions about biomagnetism remain unanswered, and the advent NV sensing affords a new avenue to explore these questions. In this thesis, we begin by establishing the techniques and capabilities of NV magnetic imaging in diamond. An introduction to magnetometry precedes a description of diamond, the properties of the NV centre, and quantum measurement protocols. We then dive into an animal model of iron biomineralisation, a sea mollusc with extraordinary teeth. Biomineralisation is an area of current interest that has previously received little attention from the angle of its intrinsic magnetic properties. Next, we see how nitrogen vacancy sensing can be applied to the improvement of magnetic tools used in the biosciences. These tools are seeing an explosion of new activity across multiple disciplines, so ways to evaluate them will prove valuable. Then, we examine the enigmatic mechanism behind animal magnetoreception. A remarkable sense known to be possessed by many disparate animal species, magnetoreception remains a near complete mystery. Finally, we consider the challenges and limitations of diamond-based temperature sensing in biological systems. This interdisciplinary endeavour has brought about exciting results including the first subcellular magnetic profiling of a eukaryotic system, vector magnetic images of developing biominerals, new protocols for the assessment of magnetic materials and avenues for new bioassays, and a window to a recently-discovered organelle with a suggested role in animal magnetoreception. With the current trajectory of quantum sensing with NV centres in diamond, the future for biological discovery looks bright.
KeywordsNitrogen Vacancy Centre; Nitrogen Vacancy; Diamond; Biophysics; Quantum Sensing; Magnetism; Optically detected magnetic resonance; Quantum magnetic microscopy; Quantum relaxation microscopy; Biomineralisation; Biomineralization; Chiton; Magnetoreception
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