Synopsis: Clearer Quantum Vision

The use of quantum states of light can enhance the resolution of bioimaging techniques.
Synopsis figure
Michael Taylor/University of Queensland

Unbreakable encryption schemes or quantum computers that outperform classical ones are the most-talked-about potential applications of quantum physics. But quantum effects could also help clear the vision of microscopes looking at the interior of living cells. As reported in Physical Review X, a new experimental scheme, based on the use of carefully engineered quantum states of light, allows researchers to map subcellular structures with a spatial resolution of about 10 nanometers.

Michael Taylor at the University of Queensland, Australia, and co-workers have developed a quantum imaging method that utilizes so-called squeezed light in photonic force microscopy (PFM). PFM is an imaging method in which a nanoscale particle is embedded in a cell and moved with optical tweezers to explore the cell interior. By measuring the light scattered by the nanoparticle at different positions, the technique provides information about the local environment around the probe, including its specific interactions with molecules like membrane proteins and other cellular structures.

The resolution of PFM depends ultimately on two factors: the particle size and the measurement’s signal-to-noise, which limits the precision with which the particle position can be determined. Using squeezed states of light—quantum states that have better noise properties than classical light—Taylor et al. were able to mitigate the impact of noise. Experiments on yeast cells showed the resolution was enhanced by 14% compared to experiments with classical light, but the use of better squeezed-light sources could lead to an order-of-magnitude improvement, potentially allowing angstrom resolution in PFM imaging. – Matteo Rini


Features

More Features »

Announcements

More Announcements »

Subject Areas

OpticsQuantum Physics

Previous Synopsis

Nonlinear Dynamics

Fighting for Attention

Read More »

Next Synopsis

Related Articles

Focus: How to Study a Speck of Dust
Optics

Focus: How to Study a Speck of Dust

A new technique allows the capture and study of a single dust particle just 34 nanometers wide, nearly 10 times smaller than the previous limit. Read More »

Synopsis: Controlling Light with Trembling Nanoparticles
Optics

Synopsis: Controlling Light with Trembling Nanoparticles

The scattering of light from vibrating particles could be harnessed to build directional devices such as optical diodes. Read More »

Synopsis: Interrupting Flow in a 2D Topological Insulator
Topological Insulators

Synopsis: Interrupting Flow in a 2D Topological Insulator

Theorists predict that backscattering of electrons by nonmagnetic impurities can disrupt current flow in a 2D topological insulator, in agreement with experiments. Read More »

More Articles