Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Researchers from ICFO use quantum physics to observe delicate systems: Schrödinger's cat has a light touch

Cat
Cat

Abstract:
A paper published in Nature Photonics introduces a new way to observe very delicate bodies based on quantum physics. Researchers from the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO) have shown that groups of photons organized in certain quantum states can gently explore the properties of objects in a non-invasive way. The results overcome for the first time a limit imposed by quantum mechanics, and may permit the observation of unknown properties of ultra-sensitive objects such as individual atoms or living cells.

Researchers from ICFO use quantum physics to observe delicate systems: Schrödinger's cat has a light touch

Barcelona, Spain | Posted on December 19th, 2012

Light is used in many fields of science to obtain precise information without damaging the subject matter. In biology, for instance, living cells can be visualized using optical microscopes. The optical microscope uses a photon beam to penetrate the cell and give a picture. Due to the high transparency of the cell, most of the photons pass through without leaving a trace. A small fraction, however, is absorbed and causes cell damage, in much the same way that the sun causes sunburn. Certain cells are more delicate, and the damage caused by photons can be mortal. Until now in these circumstances, scientists have limited the amount of light used in order to avoid damaging the cell, but the cost was a lower quality image.

Quantum physics could dramatically change this scenario. The research group led by ICREA Professor at ICFO Morgan Mitchell has shown that photons prepared in certain quantum states can provide more information, giving a clearer picture while causing less damage. These states are difficult to imagine: they require that all photons be polarized in one direction and also in the opposite direction, being in two different states at once. This is similar to a thought experiment described by Erwin Schrödinger in 1935. He imagined a hypothetical cat in a "superposition of states", being simultaneously alive and dead at the same time. Two years ago, researchers in Mitchell's group proposed a method for producing these exotic states. In this article, they demonstrate the experimental realization of this quantum state and its increased effectiveness for imaging very delicate objects.

The researchers have chosen a cloud of rubidium atoms for their experiment. This cloud of rubidium serves as a model system: "Atoms of rubidium are a good model because on one hand, they share the same characteristics as the cells in relation to the information obtained and damage caused and, on the other hand, we have very precise knowledge of their characteristics" explains Mitchell.

In the experiment, scientist prepared pairs of photons in a "Schrödinger cat" state, and then sent them through a cloud of atoms, measuring their polarization on the way out. In this way, they were able to deduce the number of atoms in the cloud and the magnetic field of their surroundings. At the same time, they were able to assess the damage, i.e. the number of photons absorbed by the cloud. With the Schrödinger cat, the ratio between information obtained and damage caused exceeds the so-called "standard quantum limit", which quantifies the maximum amount of information obtainable with any traditional probing. "Overcoming this limit provides rigorous proof of the effectiveness of quantum physics for measuring delicate objects" concludes Professor Mitchell.

####

About ICFO
ICFO-The Institute of Photonic Sciences was created in 2002 by the government of Catalonia and the Technical University of Catalonia. ICFO is a center of research excellence devoted to the sciences and technologies of light with a triple mission: to conduct frontier research, train the next generation of scientists and technologists, and provide knowledge and technology transfer.

Research at ICFO targets the forefront of science and technology based on light with programs directed at applications in Health, Renewable Energies, Information Technologies, Security and Industrial processes, among others. The center currently hosts more than 250 researchers and PhD students working in more than 60 different laboratories. All research groups and facilities are located in a dedicated 14.000 m2 building situated in the Mediterranean Technology Park in the metropolitan area of Barcelona.

ICFO researchers publish in the most prestigious journals and collaborate with a wide range of companies around the world. The institute actively promotes the creation of spin-off companies by ICFO researchers.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Oficina de Mitjans de Comunicació OMC
+34 93 401 61 43

Copyright © AlphaGalileo

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links

Follow us Twitter:

Related News Press

News and information

Long nanotubes make strong fibers: Rice University researchers advance characterization, purification of nanotube wires and films October 17th, 2017

Spinning strands hint at folding dynamics: Rice University lab uses magnetic beads to model microscopic proteins, polymers October 17th, 2017

Spin current detection in quantum materials unlocks potential for alternative electronics October 15th, 2017

Quantum manipulation power for quantum information processing gets a boost: Improving the efficiency of quantum heat engines involves reducing the number of photons in a cavity, ultimately impacting quantum manipulation power October 14th, 2017

Rice U. lab surprised by ultraflat magnets: Researchers create atom-thick alloys with unanticipated magnetic properties October 13th, 2017

Laboratories

Spin current detection in quantum materials unlocks potential for alternative electronics October 15th, 2017

Injecting electrons jolts 2-D structure into new atomic pattern: Berkeley Lab study is first to show potential of energy-efficient next-gen electronic memory October 13th, 2017

Rice U. lab surprised by ultraflat magnets: Researchers create atom-thick alloys with unanticipated magnetic properties October 13th, 2017

Physics

The secret to improving liquid crystal's mechanical performance: Better lubricating properties of lamellar liquid crystals could stem from changing the mobility of their structural dislocations by adding nanoparticles October 13th, 2017

What can be discovered at the junction of physics and chemistry October 6th, 2017

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Long nanotubes make strong fibers: Rice University researchers advance characterization, purification of nanotube wires and films October 17th, 2017

Spinning strands hint at folding dynamics: Rice University lab uses magnetic beads to model microscopic proteins, polymers October 17th, 2017

Rice U. study: Vibrating nanoparticles interact: Placing nanodisks in groups can change their vibrational frequencies October 16th, 2017

Spin current detection in quantum materials unlocks potential for alternative electronics October 15th, 2017

Discoveries

Long nanotubes make strong fibers: Rice University researchers advance characterization, purification of nanotube wires and films October 17th, 2017

Spinning strands hint at folding dynamics: Rice University lab uses magnetic beads to model microscopic proteins, polymers October 17th, 2017

Rice U. study: Vibrating nanoparticles interact: Placing nanodisks in groups can change their vibrational frequencies October 16th, 2017

Spin current detection in quantum materials unlocks potential for alternative electronics October 15th, 2017

Announcements

Long nanotubes make strong fibers: Rice University researchers advance characterization, purification of nanotube wires and films October 17th, 2017

Spinning strands hint at folding dynamics: Rice University lab uses magnetic beads to model microscopic proteins, polymers October 17th, 2017

Rice U. study: Vibrating nanoparticles interact: Placing nanodisks in groups can change their vibrational frequencies October 16th, 2017

Spin current detection in quantum materials unlocks potential for alternative electronics October 15th, 2017

Photonics/Optics/Lasers

Rice U. study: Vibrating nanoparticles interact: Placing nanodisks in groups can change their vibrational frequencies October 16th, 2017

Injecting electrons jolts 2-D structure into new atomic pattern: Berkeley Lab study is first to show potential of energy-efficient next-gen electronic memory October 13th, 2017

Single ‘solitons’ promising for optical technologies October 9th, 2017

A dash of gold improves microlasers: The precious metal provides a 'nano' solution for improving disease detection, defense and cybersecurity applications October 9th, 2017

Quantum nanoscience

What can be discovered at the junction of physics and chemistry October 6th, 2017

Energy against the current on a quantum scale, without contradicting the laws of physics: A piece of research in which the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country has participated confirms that merely observing a flow of energy or particles can change its direction October 6th, 2017

Enhancing the sensing capabilities of diamonds with quantum properties: A simple method can give diamonds the special properties needed for quantum applications such as sensing magnetic fields September 24th, 2017

Physicists develop new recipes for design of fast single-photon gun Physicists develop high-speed single-photon sources for quantum computers of the future September 21st, 2017

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project