An artist’s depiction of the quantum microscope at work.Illustration: The University of Queensland
The microscope exploits quantum entanglement to avoid destroying what it’s trying to observe.
A team of researchers in Germany and Australia recently used a new microscopy technique to image nano-scale biological structures at a previously unmanageable resolution, without destroying the living cell. The technique, which employs laser light many millions of times brighter than the Sun, has implications for biomedical and navigation technologies.
The quantum optical microscope is an example of how the strange principle of quantum entanglement can feature in real-world applications. Two particles are entangled when their properties are interdependent—by measuring one of them, you can also know the properties of the other.
The sensor in the team’s microscope, described in a paper published today in Science, hinges on quantum light—entangled pairs of photons—to see better-resolved structures without damaging them.
“The key question we answer is whether quantum lightcan allow performance in microscopes that goes beyond the limits of what is possible using conventional techniques,” said Warwick Bowen, a quantum physicist at the University of Queensland in Australia and co-author of the new study, in an email. Bowen’s team found that, in fact, it can. “We demonstrate [that] for the first time, showing that quantum correlations can allow performance (improved contrast/clarity) beyond the limit due to photodamage in regular microscopes.” By photodamage, Bowen is referring to the way a laser bombardment of photons can degrade or destroy a microscope’s target, similar to the way ants will get crispy under a magnifying glass.Continue reading… “New Quantum Microscope Can See Tiny Structures in Living Cells”