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Quantum leap for medical research as microscopes zoom in on tiny structures | Science



Australian researchers have developed a microscope capable of visualizing tiny biological structures previously invisible in what has been described as an important step for quantum technology.

It is believed to be the first time quantum technology has been improved in existing optical microscopes. This could lead to improvements in medical imaging and navigation systems in the future.

Quantum technology is based on the principles of quantum physics. It is used to describe how small systems such as atoms and subatomic particles behave.

Quantum microscopy works with up to 35% greater clarity at the level of bonds between atoms in cells. more than the state-of-the-art photography techniques that exist

Although it’s still an early proof of concept. But it hopes it will have a wide range of applications, including improving MRI scans and studying nerve degeneration and the effects of antibiotics.

Professor Warwick Bowen, lead researcher at the University of Queensland, said quantum microscopy outperforms conventional technology.

“We have shown that it is possible to push the limits of classical physics. to see what you can’t see with a conventional microscope,” he said.

A common problem in imaging small structures is the ratio of the signal given by what the researchers are trying to look at compared to random fluctuations in light in the image’s background.

Previously, scientists had overcome this problem by increasing the intensity of the microscopic light source. using a laser that is billions of times brighter than the sun. This includes techniques Won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2014

RMIT Professor Brant Gibson, who was not involved in the study, said this could cause problems in the biological samples being studied.

“They were killed. They change behavior,” Bowen said. “Everything happens, which makes it difficult to interpret what happens in biological systems.”

to get a clearer picture New microscopes use quantum technology to reduce random fluctuations in light within an image. It works related to quantum entanglement. which is a phenomenon in which photons of light are connected which is an effect that Einstein described as “Awesome interactions at a distance”

A microscope studies the vibrations of molecules within cells. “It basically tells you about the chemical bonds that are present in specific regions of the cell,” Bowen said. “That has been shown to differentiate cancer from healthy cells.”

“If the technique being proposed can extract additional information from the use of mild exposure, I think it’s a pretty profound result,” Gibson said.

Professor Dayong Jin of the University of Technology Sydney He, who was not involved in the research, said it would take some time for the new imaging technology to be widely adopted.

Jin cites the 2014 Nobel Prize-winning research as an example: This research was first developed in the early 1990s, but it took more than a decade to be implemented in laboratories around the world.

“Hopefully, within 10 years, quantum microscopes can be developed and improved extensively,” Jin said.

The researchers hope to further improve the performance of the new microscope. to get a clearer picture, about 10 times more than existing technology

Many governments around the world invest heavily in quantum technology. The Australian Army Research Center has identified the potential for With “unprecedented capabilities in sensing, imaging, communication and computation”, the development of sophisticated sensors such as microscopes is also a key step in the UK’s quantum technology roadmap.

In 2019, Google announced that it had achieved “Quantum supremacy” has created a quantum computer capable of surpassing the best traditional supercomputers in the world.

Quantum microscopy research is partially funded by the US Air Force. and has been published in the prestigious journal Nature.


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