Research ArticlePHYSICS

Optically pumped spin polarization as a probe of many-body thermalization

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Science Advances  01 May 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 18, eaaz6986
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz6986


Disorder and many body interactions are known to impact transport and thermalization in competing ways, with the dominance of one or the other giving rise to fundamentally different dynamical phases. Here we investigate the spin diffusion dynamics of 13C in diamond, which we dynamically polarize at room temperature via optical spin pumping of engineered color centers. We focus on low-abundance, strongly hyperfine-coupled nuclei, whose role in the polarization transport we expose through the integrated impact of variable radio-frequency excitation on the observable bulk 13C magnetic resonance signal. Unexpectedly, we find good thermal contact throughout the nuclear spin bath, virtually independent of the hyperfine coupling strength, which we attribute to effective carbon-carbon interactions mediated by the electronic spin ensemble. In particular, observations across the full range of hyperfine couplings indicate the nuclear spin diffusion constant takes values up to two orders of magnitude greater than that expected from homo-nuclear spin couplings.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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