Quantum computing—considered the powerhouse of computational tasks—may have applications in areas outside of pure electronics, according to a University of Pittsburgh researcher and his collaborators.
Working at the interface of quantum measurement and nanotechnology, Gurudev Dutt, assistant professor in Pitt’s Department of Physics and Astronomy in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, and his colleagues report their findings in a paper published online Dec. 18 in Nature Nanotechnology. The paper documents important progress towards realizing a nanoscale magnetic imager comprising single electrons encased in a diamond crystal.
“Think of this like a typical medical procedure—a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)—but on single molecules or groups of molecules inside cells instead of the entire body. Traditional MRI techniques don’t work well with such small volumes, so an instrument must be built to accommodate such high-precision work,” says Dutt.
However, a significant challenge arose for researchers working on the problem of building such an instrument: How does one measure a magnetic field accurately using the resonance of the single electrons within the diamond crystal? Resonance is defined as an object’s tendency to oscillate with higher energy at a particular frequency, and occurs naturally all around us: for example, with musical instruments, children on swings, and pendulum clocks. Dutt says that resonances are particularly powerful because they allow physicists to make sensitive measurements of quantities like force, mass, and electric and magnetic fields. “But they also restrict the maximum field that one can measure accurately.”
In magnetic imaging, this means that physicists can only detect a narrow range of fields from molecules near the sensor’s resonant frequency, making the imaging process more difficult.
“It can be done,” says Dutt, “but it requires very sophisticated image processing and other techniques to understand what one is imaging. Essentially, one must use software to fix the limitations of hardware, and the scans take longer and are harder to interpret.”
Dutt—working with postdoctoral researcher Ummal Momeen and PhD student Naufer Nusran (A&S’08 G), both in Pitt’s Department of Physics and Astronomy—has used quantum computing methods to circumvent the hardware limitation to view the entire magnetic field. By extending the field, the Pitt researchers have improved the ratio between maximum detectable field strength and field precision by a factor of 10 compared to the standard technique used previously. This puts them one step closer toward a future nanoscale MRI instrument that could study properties of molecules, materials, and cells in a noninvasive way, displaying where atoms are located without destroying them; current methods employed for this kind of study inevitably destroy the samples.
“This would have an immediate impact on our understanding of these molecules, materials, or living cells and potentially allow us to create better technologies,” says Dutt.
These are only the initial results, says Dutt, and he expects further improvements to be made with additional research: “Our work shows that quantum computing methods reach beyond pure electronic technologies and can solve problems that, earlier, seemed to be fundamental roadblocks to making progress with high-precision measurements.”
B. Rose Huber | EurekAlert!
An international team of physicists a coherent amplification effect in laser excited dielectrics
25.09.2017 | Universität Kassel
Highest-energy cosmic rays have extragalactic origin
25.09.2017 | CNRS
At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
25.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
25.09.2017 | Health and Medicine
25.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy