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State-selective intersystem crossing in nitrogen-vacancy centers


The intersystem crossing (ISC) is an important process in many solid-state atomlike impurities. For example, it allows the electronic spin state of the nitrogen-vacancy (NV) center in diamond to be initialized and read out using optical fields at ambient temperatures. This capability has enabled a wide array of applications in metrology and quantum information science. Here, we develop a microscopic model of the state-selective ISC from the optical excited state manifold of the NV center. By correlating the electron-phonon interactions that mediate the ISC with those that induce population dynamics within the NV center's excited state manifold and those that produce the phonon sidebands of its optical transitions, we quantitatively demonstrate that our model is consistent with recent ISC measurements. Furthermore, our model constrains the unknown energy spacings between the center's spin-singlet and spin-triplet levels. Finally, we discuss prospects to engineer the ISC in order to improve the spin initialization and readout fidelities of NV centers.