June 8, 2023


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Quantum tricks have taken microscopy to a higher level

According to the Caltech scientists who developed the solution, it should be particularly useful for studying tissues and biomolecules. This, in turn, should translate into broader possibilities for detecting disease cases or assessing the progression of different types of disease.

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The method, known as QMC (Quantum microscope by chance) in more detail in Nature Communications. Among the biggest advantages of this approach, the researchers cite increased speed, improved contrast-to-noise ratio, greater immunity to stray light, higher resolution, and lower intensity illumination.

Microscopy is made more efficient by harnessing the benefits of a phenomenon called quantum entanglement

The team members exploited entangled photons by using a type of crystal made of beta barium borate. The laser light transmitted through the crystal was partially converted into two photons, which were then separated using a grid of mirrors, lenses and prisms. One photon was then passed through the tested material, and the second was analyzed, which was possible thanks to the already mentioned quantum entanglement.

Importantly, the microscope can only image features of an object whose minimum size is half the wavelength of light used by the microscope. Reducing the wavelength makes it possible to see smaller structures, which increases the accuracy of the observations.

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And while the Caltech team isn’t the first to work on this kind of imaging, it deserves the comfort of a precedence for creating a system that uses such relationships in the real world. In other words, the theoretical assumptions were put into practice and gave the desired results. Additional efforts in this area could increase the number of photons susceptible to entanglement, although each additional photon, unfortunately, reduces the chances of successful entanglement. And this is already very low, about one in a million. These problems stem from the fact that synapses can be disturbed through interaction with the environment

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