Karabanov, A., et al., Dynamic Nuclear Polarization as Kinetically Constrained Diffusion. Phys. Rev. Lett., 2015. 115(2): p. 020404.
Dynamic nuclear polarization (DNP) is a promising strategy for generating a significantly increased nonthermal spin polarization in nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and its applications that range from medicine diagnostics to material science. Being a genuine nonequilibrium effect, DNP circumvents the need for strong magnetic fields. However, despite intense research, a detailed theoretical understanding of the precise mechanism behind DNP is currently lacking. We address this issue by focusing on a simple instance of DNP-so-called solid effect DNP-which is formulated in terms of a quantum central spin model where a single electron is coupled to an ensemble of interacting nuclei. We show analytically that the nonequilibrium buildup of polarization heavily relies on a mechanism which can be interpreted as kinetically constrained diffusion. Beyond revealing this insight, our approach furthermore permits numerical studies of ensembles containing thousands of spins that are typically intractable when formulated in terms of a quantum master equation. We believe that this represents an important step forward in the quest of harnessing nonequilibrium many-body quantum physics for technological applications.