We will deliver unprecedented levels of sensitivity and precision in applications of quantum systems to sensing, biomedical imaging, and metrology.
Physical systems that are strongly governed by quantum effects can serve as exquisitely sensitive detectors. Harnessing these effects for ultra-sensitive measurement is the central theme of this program.
“Quantum enhanced” sensing and metrology, including the ability to probe or image single electron and nuclear spins or the measurement of single quanta in mechanical systems, is a fundamental and enabling technology that could lead to breakthroughs including probing of bio and quantum mechanical phenomena in liquids and solids, the noninvasive imaging of proteins and drugs in-vivo and ultimately the development of a deep understanding of our world at the atomic scale.
For instance, in nano-electromechanical devices unprecedented sensitivity to displacement, mass, force and charge has been demonstrated over the last decade. Or, by harnessing quantum effects in solid-state nano-systems, scientists have attained the ability to detect and image single electron or nuclear spins rather than the 1010 spins required in conventional imaging techniques. And finally, the use of quantum coherent motional modes of trapped atomic ions has provided a means to detect forces nearly four orders of magnitude smaller than any comparable technique.
The overall landscape suggests that these systems are now poised to open a vast scientific frontier in sensing and metrology with applications from precision time and frequency standards, to deployable field sensors and bio-imaging.
The grand challenges of this program are:
- Realise sub-cellular, in vivo, imaging in real time with microsecond time-resolution using biocompatible nano-particles and spin manipulation.
- Use quantum mechanical spin coherence to produce enhanced sensing technologies with unrivalled performance. Specific example: use nanoscale diamonds as ultra- sensitive probes of magnetic fields in industrial and biological environments.
- Achieve new field and force sensing regimes using arrays of quantum controlled mechanical oscillators. Specific example: characterise the structure of an uncrystallisable protein using single-molecule MRI with integrated cavity optomechanics.