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Comparing continuous and pulsed nitrogen-vacancy DC magnetometry in the optical-power-limited regime

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Abstract

Ensembles of nitrogen-vacancy (NV) center spins in diamond offer a robust, precise, and accurate magnetic sensor. As their applications move beyond the laboratory, practical considerations including size, complexity, and power consumption become important. Here, we compare two commonly employed NV magnetometry techniques—continuous-wave (CW) versus pulsed magnetic resonance—in a scenario limited by the total available optical power. We develop a consistent theoretical model for the magnetic sensitivity of each protocol that incorporates NV photophysics—in particular, including the incomplete spin polarization associated with limited optical power; after comparing the models’ behavior to experiments, we use them to predict the relative DC sensitivity of CW versus pulsed operation for an optical-power-limited, shot-noise-limited NV ensemble magnetometer. We find a ${\sim}2 {-} 3 \times$ gain in sensitivity for pulsed operation, which is significantly smaller than seen in power-unlimited, single-NV experiments [Phys. Rev. B 84, 195204 (2011) [CrossRef]  ]. Our results provide a resource for practical sensor development, informing protocol choice and identifying optimal operation regimes when optical power is constrained.

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Data underlying the results presented in this paper are not publicly available at this time but may be obtained from the authors upon reasonable request.

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