Synthetic Approach To Determine the Effect of Nuclear Spin Distance on Electronic Spin Decoherence

M. J. Graham, Chung Jui Yu, Matthew D. Krzyaniak, Michael R. Wasielewski, Danna E. Freedman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Nuclear-electronic interactions are a fundamental phenomenon which impacts fields from magnetic resonance imaging to quantum information processing (QIP). The realization of QIP would transform diverse areas of research including accurate simulation of quantum dynamics and cryptography. One promising candidate for the smallest unit of QIP, a qubit, is electronic spin. Electronic spins in molecules offer significant advantages with regard to QIP, and for the emerging field of quantum sensing. Yet relative to other qubit candidates, they possess shorter superposition lifetimes, known as coherence times or T2, due to interactions with nuclear spins in the local environment. Designing complexes with sufficiently long values of T2 requires an understanding of precisely how the position of nuclear spins relative to the electronic spin center affects decoherence. Herein, we report the first synthetic study of the relationship between nuclear spin-electron spin distance and decoherence. Through the synthesis of four vanadyl complexes, (Ph4P)2[VO(C3H6S2)2] (1), (Ph4P)2[VO(C5H6S4)2] (2), (Ph4P)2[VO(C7H6S6)2] (3), and (Ph4P)2[VO(C9H6S8)2] (4), we are able to synthetically place a spin-laden propyl moiety at well-defined distances from an electronic spin center by employing a spin-free carbon-sulfur scaffold. We interrogate this series of molecules with pulsed electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy to determine their coherence times. Our studies demonstrate a sharp jump in T2 when the average V-H distance is decreased from 6.6(6) to 4.0(4) Å, indicating that spin-active nuclei sufficiently close to the electronic spin center do not contribute to decoherence. These results illustrate the power of synthetic chemistry in elucidating the fundamental mechanisms underlying electronic polarization transfer and provide vital principles for the rational design of long-coherence electronic qubits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3196-3201
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number8
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Catalysis
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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