Mechanical & Materials Engineering, Department of


Date of this Version



2015 Authors


6:8954 | DOI: 10.1038/ncomms9954 |


The ability to probe nanoscale heat flow in a material is often limited by lack of spatial resolution. Here, we use a diamond-nanocrystal-hosted nitrogen-vacancy centre attached to the apex of a silicon thermal tip as a local temperature sensor. We apply an electrical current to heat up the tip and rely on the nitrogen vacancy to monitor the thermal changes the tip experiences as it is brought into contact with surfaces of varying thermal conductivity. By combining atomic force and confocal microscopy, we image phantom microstructures with nanoscale resolution, and attain excellent agreement between the thermal conductivity and topographic maps. The small mass and high thermal conductivity of the diamond host make the time response of our technique short, which we demonstrate by monitoring the tip temperature upon application of a heat pulse. Our approach promises multiple applications, from the investigation of phonon dynamics in nanostructures to the characterization of heterogeneous phase transitions and chemical reactions in various solid-state systems.