ASTRID - Accompagnement spécifique des travaux de recherches et d’innovation défense

Spectrum analyser based on NV centers in diamond – ASPEN

Submission summary

The ASPEN project proposes an original analog method to make the spectrum analysis of a microwave signal in a quantitative and instantaneous way. It exploits the unique luminescence properties of the NV centers in diamond in a compact operational system working at room temperature. It meets the requirement of new miniaturized components of increased reliability for hyperfrequency chaines targeting applications in radio-frequency spectrum management, in electronic war, in the field of radars or in electromagnetic characterization of components operated at high frequency.
The NV center indeed possesses electronic-spin resonances, situated in the hyperfrequency domain towards 2.88 GHz, which can be detected optically from the fluorescence these color centers emit under optical excitation at the 532 nm wavelength. The application of a magnetic field allows lifting the degeneracy of the spin levels which results in a shift of the resonance frequency. This principle arouses a lot of interest of the scientific community to develop magnetometers and very sensitive nano-detectors.
In this project we exploit a reciprocal principle for which a CVD synthesized diamond crystal is submitted to a magnetic field gradient and excited by a pump laser. If a microwave signal of unknown frequency is applied, it is enough to measure the position of the resonance along the axis to know the frequency. This allows reconstructing in real time the complete spectrum of a complex signal from a single image of the space distribution of the fluorescence signal emitted by the NV centers.
The project involves three partners. The coordinator is an industrial research laboratory: Thales Research and Technology (TRT). The two other partners are academic: the Laboratoire Aimé Cotton (LAC) and the Laboratory of the Sciences, Materials and Processes (LSPM). These three partners established a strong collaboration for several years through common research projects on the NV centers in diamond, what has already led to numerous publications.
On the basis of an already made principal demonstration, they are going to collaborate to realize a spectrum analyzer having a probability of interception of the signal close to 100 % and to optimize the performances in terms of spectral range of analysis, spectral resolution and sensitivity to the microwave signal. The structure of the project is built on these improvement directions. It consists of five tasks. The first one concerns the management of the project (TRT). Besides the management of the project itself, it will be in charge of the dissemination and the valorization of the results. The second one concerns the study of the properties of the NV center under strong magnetic field and the control of the hyperfine structure of the resonance line (LAC). The third one concerns the elaboration of isotopically purified diamond and in which the NV center is oriented (LSPM). The fourth task concerns the coupling between the hyperfrequency field and the NV centers (TRT). The fifth task involves all the partners and has for objective the integration of the elements developed in the previous tasks to end in a spectrum analyzer the expected performances of which are: spectral range of analysis 2 - 20 GHz, spectral resolution better than 500 kHz and sensitivity better than 100 µW.

Project coordination


The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


LAC Laboratoire Aimé Cotton
LSPM Laboratoire des Sciences des Procédés et des Matériaux

Help of the ANR 298,776 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: December 2017 - 36 Months

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