A commentary published alongside the studies predicts a more advanced application: imaging single molecules inside living cells. Diamond nanocrystals immersed in a cell's cytoplasm could essentially produce real-time films of the activity of single molecules, such as a protein folding, writes Philip Hemmer, a solid-state physicist at Texas A&M University in College Station.
“These are great experiments,” says Christian Degen, who studies spin physics and imaging at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. He points out that it is very difficult to get the nitrogen defect in just the right place. “It’s been a long struggle to get there.”