Quantum entanglement microscopes advancing chemistry, medicine, materials science and more


[music] Miles O’Brien:
In Ted Goodson’s lab, eye protection
is the name of the game. [music] Miles O’Brien:
Welcome to “Laser Central.” Physical chemists use lasers
extensively to study the structure
and properties of molecules. Now the team here
at the University of Michigan is taking laser chemistry
to the next level. And that could mean
big strides forward in areas like cancer treatment,
Alzheimer’s research, and materials science. Theodore Goodson III:
The general area of using entangled photons
to do imaging in microscopy just maybe
only 10 years ago was virtually thought of
as a very, very difficult task – maybe almost impossible. Miles O’Brien:
With support from the National Science Foundation, they’ve built a cutting-edge
new laser-based instrument called a quantum
entanglement microscope. Goodson has had no trouble
assembling his team. This is the next big thing. Theodore Goodson III:
When I ask post-docs, graduate students, undergraduate students
and high school students, I give them a choice
of the project that they want to work on. I know I should always
mention the quantum one last because once I mention
the quantum one, they all say “quantum.” Miles O’Brien:
Photons are particles of light. This new instrument is an “Entangled Two-Photon
Absorption” Microscope. It works by generating
a quantum behavior called “entanglement” in the photons
that make up the laser beam. Theodore Goodson III:
An entangled pair has two photons that are
entangled to each other, which means that they share
some kind of wave function, they share some kind of
information between each other. Miles O’Brien:
Graduate student Audrey Eshun gave us a show and tell. Audrey Eshun:
Here is where our laser beam comes through, and it passes through
this crystal and that’s where we generate
our entangled photons. From there, the light
goes and hits the sample, and then the light
passes through the sample to this detector right here. Miles O’Brien:
The microscope generates high resolution images
using low intensity beams, many orders of magnitude lower
than anything used before. Audrey Eshun:
So, if you were to do imaging with normal or random light, you would be using very, very,
very high intensity light, but this is
a lot less powerful. Miles O’Brien:
Less powerful, but very effective. The low intensity nature
of the entangled photon beam means the team can image
delicate samples, like living cells, without
damaging them in the process, and that should lead
to advances in medicine, like better cancer
diagnostics. Theodore Goodson III:
And, our project is actually to actually use
this microscope to see if we can actually find
signatures of the cancer cell without the use
of a probe dye. Miles O’Brien:
The new technique could have applications
in materials science, like better, more sensitive
L-E-D’s of the kind used in the solar energy sector. Theodore Goodson III:
So, we would like to investigate the quality of a light-emitting
diode or a photovoltaic device. Can we utilize this microscope
to investigate the properties of the molecules
in these displays? Miles O’Brien:
Goodson stresses that quantum entangled microscopy
opens the door to learning things
entirely new about chemistry. Theodore Goodson III:
The world is changing in quantum mechanics
and quantum information science. It offers new opportunities
for things that we can see and image, that we can sense in chemistry,
in medicine, in biology, and we can actually
do in engineering. Miles O’Brien:
Harnessing entangled photons to image fragile samples, generating sharp images
of the very small with the gentlest of touches. For Science Nation,
I’m Miles O’Brien.

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