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Single-proton spin detection by diamond magnetometry


For the first time, researchers have succeeded to detect a single hydrogen atom using magnetic resonance imaging, which signifies a huge increase in the technology's spatial resolution. In the future, single-atom MRI could be used to shed new light on protein structures.

Study withdrawn

The researchers withdrew the original work on which this ETH News article is based on 9 January 2015 in consultation with the journal Science. The scientists felt compelled to take this step after discovering a weakness in the detection method they used.

A re-analysis showed that in some cases the data can also be explained differently than assumed in the study, namely with the presence of individual atomic nuclei of the isotope carbon-13. At this point in time, the scientists therefore consider the data situation to be insufficient to continue to support the main statement of the study, according to which they had detected a single hydrogen atom for the first time using magnetic resonance imaging.

According to the researchers, the detection method used was already well known and had been used many times, but the weak point mentioned had not been recognised before. It is therefore possible that further work in the field will be affected. In the meantime, the researchers have described the vulnerability in more detail in a follow-up study.

» Follow-up study

Source: ETH Zürich