Size-reduction of nanodiamonds via air oxidation

T. Gaebel*, C. Bradac, J. Chen, J. M. Say, L. Brown, P. Hemmer, J. R. Rabeau

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)


Here we report the size reduction and effects on nitrogen-vacancy centres in nanodiamonds by air oxidation using a combined atomic force and confocal microscope. The average height reduction of individual crystals, as measured by atomic force microscopy, was 10 ± 1 nm/h at 600 °C, 4 ± 1 nm/h at 550 °C, and less than 1 nm/h at 500 °C from air oxidation at atmospheric pressure. The oxidation process modified the surface including removal of non-diamond carbon and organic material which also led to a decrease in background fluorescence. During the course of the nanodiamond size reduction, we observed the annihilation of nitrogen-vacancy centres which provided important insight into the behaviour of colour centres in small crystals. In these unirradiated samples, the smallest nanodiamond still hosting a stable nitrogen-vacancy centre observed was 8 nm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-32
Number of pages5
JournalDiamond and Related Materials
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012


  • nanodiamonds
  • oxidation
  • optical properties characterization
  • NV defects

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