Editorial Feature

How is Quantum Imaging Superior to Classical Methods?

Modern imaging systems are no longer limited by the quality of the technology itself but rather by the fundamental laws of physics. However, the emerging field of quantum imaging offers a promising solution to overcome these limitations through subwavelength resolution, sub-shot-noise, and interaction-free imaging. This article explores the advantages of quantum imaging over classical methods, highlighting the latest research and developments in the field.

quantum imaging, what is quantum imaging, why is quantum imaging better

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Quantum Imaging: Advancing Imaging Beyond Classical Limits

Imaging is a vital tool in various fields, but classical imaging techniques face limitations in resolution and contrast due to the wave nature of light. Quantum entanglement, however, offers potential improvements beyond these limits, leading to the development of quantum imaging.

Quantum imaging is a sub-field of quantum optics that uses quantum correlations of the electromagnetic field to achieve superior imaging capabilities than classical methods.

Throughout history, advancements in understanding the nature of light have led to new imaging applications. The realization that light exists in discrete energy portions (quanta) initiated the first quantum revolution, forming the basis of photonics and laser technology. The second quantum revolution exploits quantum states with entanglement and superposition for quantum technological applications, enabling novel imaging modalities.

Researchers worldwide strived to surpass the limitations of existing imaging methods, focusing on improving resolution, signal-to-noise ratio, contrast, and spectral range. Quantum imaging offers a pathway to overcome these limitations, enabling highly efficient imaging and spectroscopy even in extreme spectral ranges where efficient detection is challenging.

What Makes Quantum Imaging Superior to Classical Methods?

Enhanced Sensitivity

Quantum entanglement enables quantum imaging to achieve higher sensitivity compared to classical methods. By leveraging the correlation of measurement outcomes between particles, quantum entanglement enables the detection of weak signals and low levels of light that would be challenging for classical systems, leading to improved contrast and detection capabilities.

Subwavelength Resolution

Quantum imaging enables subwavelength resolution (super-resolution) by surpassing the diffraction limit imposed by classical optics through quantum entanglement and compression.

Quantum imaging leverages the principle of superposition, allowing a quantum system to exist in multiple states simultaneously. Unlike classical imaging, which measures one state at a time, quantum imaging simultaneously captures multiple aspects of a target. This enables enhanced information acquisition and improved image resolution.

Imaging Across Obstacles

Quantum entanglement enables non-local correlations between particles, allowing instantaneous relationships regardless of distance. This property is used in quantum imaging techniques such as ghost imaging and quantum teleportation-based imaging to reconstruct images even in the presence of obstacles or over long distances by harnessing non-local correlations.

Sub-Shot-Noise Imaging

Quantum imaging harnesses quantum illumination to achieve imaging resolutions below the shot noise limit, a fundamental resolution limit in classical imaging due to random sequences of photons.

Quantum illumination harnesses spatial correlations between photon pairs to reduce background noise, improve image clarity and accuracy, and enable superior target identification and discrimination.

Recent Quantum Imaging Research and Developments

Quantum Imaging Camera: Non-Invasive Imaging of Biological Specimens and Nanomaterials

In a recent study published in npj Quantum Information, researchers led by Yiquan Yang developed a quantum imaging camera that captures images without directly illuminating the specimens. This device harnesses the wave-particle duality of single photons to capture images without directly bouncing light off objects (conventional illumination).

The technique relies on probe photons carrying image information without disturbing the object, which is then transferred to signal photons detected by a single-photon detector.

This quantum imaging approach offers the benefit of non-invasive imaging without strong illumination, making it ideal for studying delicate biological specimens and nanomaterials while minimizing potential damage.

Quantum Imaging Doubles Microscope Resolution

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology have developed a quantum microscope, leveraging the principles of quantum imaging, to achieve imaging with approximately twice the resolution of a conventional microscope. The results are published in Nature Communications.

Traditional imaging systems are restricted by the properties of light, such as diffraction and wavelength limitations. To overcome these constraints, the scientists employed quantum-property-exhibiting entangled photons.

The entangled photons follow symmetric paths and recombine, effectively behaving like a single photon with half the wavelength, resulting in a twofold improvement in resolution.

This quantum imaging microscope has successfully imaged various subjects, including test targets, carbon fibers, and cancer cells, offering non-destructive bioimaging capabilities at a cellular level.

NVision's Quantum Imaging Tech Enhances Disease Detection and Treatment Evaluation

NVision, a German start-up, has developed a quantum imaging technique that enhances MRI imaging by leveraging quantum physics. Their "hyperpolarisation" technology increases the magnetic signal of molecules in the body by up to 100,000 times using standard MRI machines.

This quantum imaging technique enables MRI imaging to reveal metabolic changes in cells at an unprecedented level of precision, offering early detection of (cancer and heart) diseases and valuable insights into the effectiveness of cancer treatments and the progression of tumors within days rather than months.

Future Outlooks of Quantum Imaging

Quantum imaging is poised for significant advancements in various domains. By harnessing the power of quantum mechanics, researchers are revolutionizing imaging capabilities, leading to breakthroughs in healthcare, astronomy, security, and beyond. The potential benefits are vast, and as obstacles are overcome, we can expect to explore new frontiers in imaging technology.

More from AZoQuantum: How Spectator Qubits Can Reduce Noise in Quantum Computers

References and Further Reading

D'Angelo, M., & Shih, Y. H. (2005). Quantum imaging. Laser Physics Letters, 2(12), 567. https://doi.org/10.1002/lapl.200510054

Gatti, A., Brambilla, E., & Lugiato, L. (2008). Quantum imaging. Progress in Optics, 51, 251-348. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0079-6638(07)51005-X

Gilaberte Basset, M., Setzpfandt, F., Steinlechner, F., Beckert, E., Pertsch, T., & Gräfe, M. (2019). Perspectives for applications of quantum imaging. Laser & Photonics Reviews, 13(10), 1900097. https://doi.org/10.1002/lpor.201900097

He, Z., Zhang, Y., Tong, X., Li, L., & Wang, L. V. (2023). Quantum microscopy of cells at the Heisenberg limit. Nature Communications, 14(1), 2441. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-023-38191-4

Huet, N (2023). 'Like Google Street View': NVision's quantum tech allows MRI imaging to show metabolism gone awry. [Online]. Euro News. Available at: https://www.euronews.com/next/2023/06/02/nvision-imaging-quantum-tech-allows-mri-imaging-to-show-metabolism-gone-awry-fight-cancer

Magaña-Loaiza, O. S., & Boyd, R. W. (2019). Quantum imaging and information. Reports on Progress in Physics, 82(12), 124401. https://doi.org/10.1088/1361-6633/ab5005

Pérez-Delgado, C. A., Pearce, M. E., & Kok, P. (2012). Fundamental limits of classical and quantum imaging. Physical review letters, 109(12), 123601. https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevLett.109.123601

Yang, Y., Liang, H., Xu, X., Zhang, L., Zhu, S., & Ma, X. S. (2023). Interaction-free, single-pixel quantum imaging with undetected photons. npj Quantum Information, 9(1), 2.  https://doi.org/10.1038/s41534-022-00673-6

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Owais Ali

Written by

Owais Ali

NEBOSH certified Mechanical Engineer with 3 years of experience as a technical writer and editor. Owais is interested in occupational health and safety, computer hardware, industrial and mobile robotics. During his academic career, Owais worked on several research projects regarding mobile robots, notably the Autonomous Fire Fighting Mobile Robot. The designed mobile robot could navigate, detect and extinguish fire autonomously. Arduino Uno was used as the microcontroller to control the flame sensors' input and output of the flame extinguisher. Apart from his professional life, Owais is an avid book reader and a huge computer technology enthusiast and likes to keep himself updated regarding developments in the computer industry.

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