Colour centres in diamond are promising candidates as a platform for quantum technologies and biomedical imaging based on spins and/or photons. Controlling the emission properties of colour centres in diamond is a key requirement for the development of efficient single-photon sources having high collection efficiency. A number of groups have achieved an enhancement in the emission rate over narrow wavelength ranges by coupling single emitters in nanodiamond crystals to resonant electromagnetic structures. In this paper, we characterize in detail the spontaneous emission rates of nitrogen-vacancy centres at various locations on a structured substrate. We found a factor of 1.5 average enhancement of the total emission rate when nanodiamonds are on an opal photonic crystal surface, and observed changes in the lifetime distribution. We present a model for explaining these observations and associate the lifetime properties with dipole orientation and polarization effects.
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