Alliance Project

Sensing phase transitions on the surface of diamond

PhD Student:

  • Pelayo Fernandez Acebal


  • Prof. Martin Plenio (Ulm)
  • Prof. Nir Bar-Gill (Hebrew University)


The behaviour of ultra-thin layers of liquids can differ greatly from that of bulk liquids due to interactions on the liquid-solid interface. This includes significant changes in diffusion properties, as well as the temperature at which the liquid-solid phase transition takes place. Indeed, molecular dynamics simulation suggest that thin-layer water may remain solid even above 100C, and it is known (but not well understood) that water on the surface of proteins remains liquid even below 0C. Because of the small volumes of liquid that are involved in such scenarios, it is very hard to examine experimentally. NV centers in diamond within a few nanometers of the surface represent a promising tool for the investigation of magnetic signals emanating from liquids and solids that are deposited on the diamond surface, with a sensitivity that can reach the single nuclear spin limit. This project represent a joint theory-experiment effort to examine the properties of thin layers of liquids on the surface of diamonds, and specifically to determine the optimal protocols for observing the different phases and the transitions between them for such thin layers of liquid.