Electron paramagnetic resonance studies of the neutral nitrogen vacancy in diamond
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Despite the numerous experimental and theoretical studies on the negatively charged nitrogen vacancy center (NV-) in diamond and the predictions that the neutral nitrogen vacancy center (NV0) should have an S=1/2 ground state, NV0 has not previously been detected by electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR). We report new EPR data on a trigonal nitrogen-containing defect in diamond with an S=3/2 excited state populated via optical excitation. Analysis of the spin Hamiltonian parameters and the wavelength dependence of the optical excitation leads to assignment of this S=3/2 state to the (4)A(2) excited state of NV0. This identification, together with an examination of the electronic structure of the NV centers in diamond, provides a plausible explanation for the lack of observation (to date) of an EPR signal from the NV0 ground state.