A New Kind Of Microscope Might Revolutionize Quantum Science


    Microscopes have enabled scientists to view a world that would otherwise be hidden from us. Starting from biologists, microscopes have enabled the fast pace of scientific achievements and ensured that size doesn’t limit our reach. However, there is a limit to how good microscopes can be, observing things on a molecular or atomic level has only recently become possible with the advent of advanced microscopes such as the electron microscope.

    The use of microscopes in physics, however unconventional, is not unheard of. Many areas of experimental physics require microscopes of high power, and with the global efforts to better understand quantum mechanics, their importance will only grow.

    An electron microscope.

    In a big breakthrough, Technion Professor Ido Kaminer and his team have successfully made a quantum microscope that can record the flow of light. This microscope enables the direct observation of light trapped inside a photonic crystal. The experiments were performed using a unique ultrafast transmission electron microscope.

    The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology was where these experiments were performed. The microscope has earned the distinction of being only one of the microscopes in the world that can perform such a feat. The microscope is truly a breakthrough in many aspects as it can do things that were simply not possible with any other microscope.

    The researchers claim that the microscope can produce the best near-field optical microscopy in the world. The microscope can change the colour and angle of the light that illuminates any particle of interest and maps the ensuing interactions with a high level of accuracy.

    This has already been demonstrated by the team using photonic crystals. This has pushed the limits of observability as now the researchers can observe the interactions that happen while the light is trapped inside a nanomaterial. Previously, we had to rely on computer simulations to figure out what happens at that exact moment.

    Actual image of atoms as seen from a high powered electron microscope.

    The implications of this breakthrough are still not clear. However, they will be nothing short of groundbreaking in terms of new technology and capabilities that will directly help us build. One of the few areas where this breakthrough will have an impact is the design and production of new quantum materials that can store quantum bits. Now it will be possible to design such materials with greater stability. A lot of investigation is left to be carried out into the advanced nano/quantum materials.

    With this breakthrough, we can expect things to improve in the quantum technology front, and we could quite possibly see a explosion of breakthroughs as a result of this.

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