A quantum physics imaging project, with applications in microscopy, has received a grant of nearly €2 million from the European Research Council (ERC).
The QuNim (Quantum-enhanced nonlinear imaging) project is aiming to develop a system which enables enhanced 3D imaging of a biological sample through the phenomenon of quantum entanglement, in which two particles are interlinked and display a degree of correlation not possible in the classical world.
QuNim will be designed to overcome limitations in current imaging systems and to achieve deeper imaging than they at present allow.
The grant of €1,979,703 will run for five years. It forms part of ERC’s Consolidator Grants programme, which in turn are part of the EU’s Horizon Europe programme.
Dr Lucia Caspani, a Senior Lecturer in Strathclyde’s Institute of Photonics, is leading the project. She said: “Many pioneering advances in medicine and biology require observation of the microscopic world with high resolution and without damaging the specimen. One of the most widespread techniques is multiphoton fluorescence microscopy, which allows full 3D imaging through optical sectioning; this is imaging within a sample without the need for physical slicing.
“However, this technique has a major limitation. The penetration depth and the signal-to-noise ratio are not sufficient for imaging deep within tissue, preventing functional imaging of, for example, neuronal or cardiac activity beyond superficial layers.
“QuNIm aims to transform the field of nonlinear imaging and microscopy by exploiting the unique properties of entanglement, a quantum mechanical superposition of two or more photons that behave like single particles.
“QuNIm will apply, for the first time, innovative concepts and macroscopic quantum beams to deliver a ground-breaking imaging technique. It will maintain the strengths of standard nonlinear imaging while increasing its penetration depth and removing the main drawbacks, such as tissue damage caused by intense laser beams.
“If successful, we will safely extend the limit of deep-tissue imaging, delivering a transformative impact in different fields, with possible applications in neuroscience, where imaging of sub-cortical brain regions is crucial in fundamental studies into learning, memory and degenerative neural conditions such as Alzheimer's Disease.”