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 procedurea 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 pr
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University of Pittsburgh