Oak Ridge National Laboratory physicists studying quantum sensing, which could impact a wide range of potential applications from airport security scanning to gravitational wave measurements, have outlined in ACS Photonics the dramatic advances in the field. “Quantum-enhanced microscopes are particularly exciting,” ORNL’s Ben Lawrie said.
“These quantum sensors can ‘squeeze’ the uncertainty in optical measurements, reducing the uncertainty in one variable while increasing the uncertainty elsewhere.” Squeezed light refers to a quantum state where the statistical noise that occurs in ordinary light is greatly reduced. Squeezed atomic force microscopes, or AFMs, could operate hundreds of times faster than current microscopes while providing a nanoscale description of high-speed electronic interactions in materials.
This enhancement is enabled by removing a requirement in most AFMs that the microscope operate at a single frequency. Future sensing technologies that harness quantum properties could be deployed as new quantum-enabled devices or as “plug-ins” for existing sensors.