Origins of Diamond Surface Noise Probed by Correlating Single-Spin Measurements with Surface Spectroscopy
The nitrogen-vacancy (NV) center in diamond exhibits spin-dependent fluorescence and long spin coherence times under ambient conditions, enabling applications in quantum information processing and sensing. NV centers near the surface can have strong interactions with external materials and spins, enabling new forms of nanoscale spectroscopy. However, NV spin coherence degrades within 100 nm of the surface, suggesting that diamond surfaces are plagued with ubiquitous defects. Prior work on characterizing near-surface noise has primarily relied on using NV centers themselves as probes; while this has the advantage of exquisite sensitivity, it provides only indirect information about the origin of the noise. Here we demonstrate that surface spectroscopy methods and single-spin measurements can be used as complementary diagnostics to understand sources of noise. We find that surface morphology is crucial for realizing reproducible chemical termination, and use this insight to achieve a highly ordered, oxygen-terminated surface with suppressed noise. We observe NV centers within 10 nm of the surface with coherence times extended by an order of magnitude.