Solid-State Defects as Nanoscale Sensors

In Norman Yao’s lab alongside Satcher Hsieh and many other fantastic folks, I work in the study of nitrogen-vacancy (NV) centers. NV centers are defects in diamond where a nitrogen substitutional defect is adjacent to a lattice vacancy. Because of their strong coupling to magnetic and strain fields owing in large part to their excellent spin structure and polarizability, the NV center can be used as a nanoscale sensor of magnetic fields and strain. This allows for fine-grained observations of these quantities of interest in regimes where such measurements would be extraordinarily difficult, e.g., under the extreme pressures of a diamond anvil cell.

A great review of nitrogen-vacancy centers by Lilian Childress.

Another great review of another interesting solid-state defect, the silicon-vacancy center, by Christian Hepp.

NV centers push the frontiers of high pressure magnetometry to unprecedented sensitivities and spatial resolutions.

Dynamical Structure of the Quintuplet Cluster

I currently study the dynamical structure of the Quintuplet cluster alongside Jessica Lu and Matt Hosek. The Quintuplet cluster is a so-called young massive cluster near the center of the galaxy. Due to its proximity to the Galactic Center, the Quintuplet cluster is thought to be a good representative of star formation and dynamical evolution in such extreme environments. In these contexts, there is also immense comparative value in juxtaposing the Quintuplet with the Arches cluster, widely thought to be the Quintuplet’s younger “cousin” of sorts. Using proper motions, we identify cluster members from NIR Hubble Space Telescope data from WFC3-IR and use it to probe for signs of evolution in its structure.

An excellent review of young massive clusters by Simon Portegies Zwart.

Slides from my lunch talk (21 March 2019).

Three-color image of the Quintuplet cluster, where the RGB values represent intensities in three NIR filters on HST WFC3-IR (120”×120”).