Major Scientific Leap: Quantum Microscope Created That Can See the Impossible

Artist’s impression of UQ’s new quantum microscope in action. Credit: The University of Queensland

In a major scientific leap, University of Queensland researchers have created a quantum microscope that can reveal biological structures that would otherwise be impossible to see.

This paves the way for applications in biotechnology, and could extend far beyond this into areas ranging from navigation to medical imaging.

The microscope is powered by the science of quantum entanglement, an effect Einstein described as “spooky interactions at a distance.”

UQ’s quantum microscope, ready to zero in on previously impossible-to-see biology. Credit: The University of Queensland

Professor Warwick Bowen, from UQ’s Quantum Optics Lab and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems (EQUS), said it was the first entanglement-based sensor with performance beyond the best possible existing technology.

“This breakthrough will spark all sorts of new technologies — from better navigation systems to better MRI machines, you name it,” Professor Bowen said.

“Entanglement is thought to lie at the heart of a quantum revolution. We’ve finally demonstrated that sensors that use it can supersede existing, non-quantum technology.

“This is exciting — it’s the first proof of the paradigm-changing potential of entanglement for sensing.”

Australia’s Quantum Technologies Roadmap sees quantum sensors spurring a new wave of technological innovation in healthcare, engineering, transport and resources.

A major success of the team’s quantum microscope was its ability to catapult over a ‘hard barrier’ in traditional light-based microscopy.

“The best light microscopes use bright lasers that are billions of times brighter than the sun,” Professor Bowen said.

“Fragile biological systems like a human cell can only survive a short time in them and this is a major roadblock.

“The quantum entanglement in our microscope provides 35 percent improved clarity without destroying the cell, allowing us to see minute biological structures that would otherwise be invisible.

“The benefits are obvious — from a better understanding of living systems, to improved diagnostic technologies.”

UQ team researchers (counter-clockwise from bottom-left) Caxtere Casacio, Warwick Bowen, Lars Madsen and Waleed Muhammad aligning the quantum microscope. Credit: The University of Queensland

Professor Bowen said there were potentially boundless opportunities for quantum entanglement in technology.

“Entanglement is set to revolutionize computing, communication, and sensing,” he said. “Absolutely secure communication was demonstrated some decades ago as the first demonstration of absolute quantum advantage over conventional technologies.

“Computing faster than any possible conventional computer was demonstrated by Google two years ago, as the first demonstration of absolute advantage in computing.

“The last piece in the puzzle was sensing, and we’ve now closed that gap.

“This opens the door for some wide-ranging technological revolutions.”

Reference: “Quantum-enhanced nonlinear microscopy” by Catxere A. Casacio, Lars S. Madsen, Alex Terrasson, Muhammad Waleed, Kai Barnscheidt, Boris Hage, Michael A. Taylor and Warwick P. Bowen9 June 2021, Nature.
DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-03528-w

The research was supported by the United States Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Australian Research Council.

BiochemistryBiotechnologyNanotechnologyOpticsPopularQuantum PhysicsUniversity of Queensland
Comments ( 126 )
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  • David Stonier-Gibson

    So when you re-printed that press release did you not see that you’d need a quantum microscope to spot any hard information in all the information-free puff?

    • Clyde Spencer

      Let’s not be too hard on them. They did provide an “Artist’s impression of UQ’s new quantum microscope in action.” What more do you want? An explanation of how it works?

      • Frosted Flake

        There are no sandwiches, nor any cookies, a dark side, or, getting to the point, an explanation.

        It’s all metaphorical.

      • Wade

        Well….yes!

  • Grimveous

    With not a word to the workings of it, one can only wonder how it works. But at least we got a reference for further reading. Thanks.

    • Jack W.

      Use your mind Quoto

  • DaComishner

    I read this twice just to make sure I did not overlook the information entangled in it. And there twerent none.

  • Bort Vern

    They went with “Major Scientific Leap: Quantum Microscope,” when they could have easily put in a Quantum Leap reference.

    • PAFMelb

      “Quantum Leap” see under “oxymoron”
      “Giant Quantum Leap” see under plain “moronic”

  • Yo-nonymous

    Once again, in an effort to smite our fellow man (US Air Force Research Funding) we develop technologies that alleviate suffering and advance human knowledge.

  • Cynthia Binder

    Laughing humans of earth,quantum mechanics and 🔬🔭 education!!!! who will be piloting✈🛰🛩🛸🛫

  • Pmmckane

    So…I’ll take this article as supposition.

  • Roger

    Hey! Where’s the Chinese in the picture? Somebody has to funnel the research details to Beijing.

  • Usarian

    They use entanglement to tag the photons as they go out, then read the tags when the photons are detected, thus giving them the ability to precisely calculate the image and eliminate stray photons causing noise.
    Instead of having to use more photons, which irradiates living tissue, they can get a significantly clearer image using fewer photons (less intense light).
    It’s published in Nature

    • Clyde Spencer

      I’ve read the publicly available abstract. There are a lot of claims, but nothing I can see that substantiates the claims. It appears to be hand waving. I’m not about to pay $200 to find out that there is no more substance to the actual article than there is in the abstract.

      • PAFMelb

        Try this Abstract written by the researchers, not a journo, that appeared in Nature. No gee-whiz, no quantum leaping, just a sober abstract announcing “another brick in the wall” has been laid.
        https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-03528-w

    • mitch clogg

      Thank you, usarian, for a calm, plain description!

    • PAFMelb

      Well said. One search engine term “Caxtere Casacio” gets you to the original. If her name had been Jane Smith it might have been different.

  • Arlene

    Where can we go from here? Sounds like endless possibilities.

    • Lucas

      Nope, this is the end of the road. Sensing was the final piece of the puzzle. They’ve done it now.

  • Wile E. Coyote (Genius.)

    Using the information in this article, and just It’s a bit of guesswork I have devised a quantum microscope of my own — one capable of spotting Road Runner arriving before she’s even left… HA! HAHA! Just a flick of this switch….

    • PAFMelb

      What! Road Runner is a HEN? I’m seventy now and I feel my whole belief system crumbling.

  • Romeo

    One small step for the Air Force…. finally a step closer behind China and Russia’s Tic Tac’s 10,999 more to catch up.

  • DarkStalker

    Someone should reintroduce these guys to De La Warr. He had a microscope that could see thru time and space. Its amusing how academia goes in circles…

    https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C555183

    But this is prolly why huh, when access is restricted till some arbitrary date.

    “Legal status: Public Record(s)
    Closure status: Open Document, Open Description
    Access conditions: Closed Until 2018
    Record opening date: 19 March 2018”

  • Hank Pym

    Astounding! In theory, an individual could utilize this device to undergo a reduction in mass (“shrink” themselves, in laymans terms) sufficient enough to permit entry into the quantum realm. Once inside, this individual would be capable of exiting the quantum realm at a different point in time by harnessing the raw scientific energy of pym particles. Meaning they could travel back in time to June 8, 2021 A.D., and with one swift kick to the writers testicles, they could prevent the creation of this clickbait article altogether. What an incredible time it is in the world of science.

    • Lucas

      I saw that movie. Rick Moranis was in it. It seemed to kind of kill his career.

  • DILL

    Can you give an example at least on what this could be used for?? Jeeeez.

  • Ambi

    Could be used to see unseen things in other realms as well or a link with AI and humans.

  • Annoyed

    I agree with others: Nothing concrete was shared. I kept reading, looking for examples of what they could actually observe; That never came.

    It’s clear the author is not familiar with the research done.

  • Cpt Credible

    Bahaha, brand new Microscope that sees the impossible….and we get artist renderings. Oof.

  • Ps

    Doubts this is new 😀

  • Facts

    Nerds 🤣

  • Ohhhhhhyeahhhhhh

    Can it see the “invisible” sculpture that dude sold?

  • Patrick R Sebers

    I thought if you looked at it things would change…hmmm.

  • Mike Hunt

    Is impossible. The old measurement causes interference.

  • Sara

    I’m left wondering… WHERES THE BEEF?
    Or
    Do I need a quantum entanglement microscope to find it?

  • Pablo

    How about an actual photo? Something that compares the a before and after?

  • Mary

    Hopefully they will be able to find out way some of use have heart disease, kidney disease. That would be so wonderful.

  • Bob

    It’s bs

  • Guerdan Clement

    No comment about who owns the intellectual property. Can this technology be used in weapons of mass destruction against peasant populations targeted by USA, in such as Yemen, Syria,Afghanistan, Iraq, etc? Aust govt is in the process of refusing visa renewals for Chinese academics (working at UQ) with the false accusation that their research in Australia could be used to design “weapons of mass destruction”. And yet, Aust govt thru ARC supports this research in partnership with the Air Force of warmongering Facist USA !

  • Anthony Bryan

    God you techies can be nay sayers… it says right in the third paragraph that it’s “powered by science”. That should be explanation enough but they even go into more detail it’s “beyond existing technology”.
    SCITECHDAILY is way to technical for us layman.

    • Lucas

      You’re quite correct of course. And anyway, we were warned at the top of the article that this new gadget sees ‘the impossible.’ What kind of idiot expects pictures of ‘the impossible,’ when we don’t even have the quantum-entangled app for our phones yet, to be able to see the damn photos.

  • Notabot

    Science hurts and it heals..
    I believe overall that the arc bends to healing and helping. More positives than negatives..
    So….Thank you science

  • HankHogan

    Could be “hocus pocus at the focus ?”

    • Mikey

      That had me laughing hulk! Well played, well played

  • NFTawes

    Given that we shoot light at an object, & then gain insight on the reflection. I’d guess it involves creating entanglement between a less destructive form of matter than light, & then shooting said entangled matter at an object, recording what happens to the entangled matter that wasn’t shot at the object.

  • Robert Hooke

    In most microscopy R&D it’s customary to publish an image or two using the new technique or device.
    Just a suggestion…

  • Rob Ballard

    This sounds like Spock using his Tricorder!

  • Viteye

    Hope they are right, get a patent, then let the boys try to break it. If testing proves them right, BRAVO! If not? Back to the lab. I fell for cold fusion and all I ended up with is a juice machine that needs 600 volts to run.

  • Me

    Nothing but a reach-around…

  • Gill

    You know it’s funny how they say they’ve made a quantum microscope and how it has quantum sensors and yet we can’t even get soap dispensers to recognize skin tones darker than toast….sounds like bs to me but who knows it might just be another technological achievement that works only sometimes or only for a very short time 😧

  • Dwight McCartney

    Anyone complaining about not getting an explanation of how it works would not be able to understand how it works. Those who could comprehend it are reading the original paper.

    • mitch clogg

      Wha…?! Y’mean I can’t get it from Popular Science??

  • James Abbott

    Sounds like a freaking winner to me spin that sh*t oh and what stock should I buy

  • John Lennon

    Dear dwight your Dad thought he was the best Beatle as well. Seems you are both less knowledgeable than once thunk

  • VAPORRAID

    Can u put the same tech in a deep space telescope?

  • Eric

    I think it’s amazing in many ways. The future is at hand and instead of cookies and crackers let’s concentrate on adding ideas of more possible future technically and making things like this available to medical personnel for saving lives or helping the Kardashians realize that it’s gonna take even more than Quantum Physics to improve their looks and personalities.

  • Just Wondering

    Ya… would really like some info on how one entangles an entire polypeptide, let alone larger cellular structures- my imagination is running wild with the possibilities implied by the vagueness of the article … perhaps the article was referencing warp reactors or teleportation devices; hard to tell… it’s almost like they stated a conclusion but forgot to include a method, procedure, results, and findings section… so, useless; I met god, he told me I can do this.

  • Dennis Fox

    Ouch, tough crowd.

  • Inquiring Mind

    So . . . How does it show what’s impossible? If it’s impossible how could it possibly be possible?

  • M3nehune

    Rife microscope.

  • KitKat

    If anything sounds as if ill need an added layer of security for my den. Thats all I got out of it.

  • Mary

    Maybe they left out the details because they didn’t think anyone would understand it, let alone the writer

  • Mary

    Also. Anything is Possible, but only something’s are probable.

    • Enjoying the comments more than the article

      If anything is possible you have to allow for the possibility that some things are infact impossible. Thus arriving at the conclusion that not all things are possible.

  • Ken Kenahole

    Yep.nothing to see here. Might as well not have written it if you are not going to explain the details.

  • Jbalt

    While the article had no real value for any reader, I felt good at the end. That’s important.

  • Illusionist

    It’s all matrix imagination/illusions… 🧐

  • Gary Hanson

    As to the workings of the entangled sensors it is likely they absumed the readers had a six grade science education. (Magic Satire)

  • Jodi

    The details of how the quantum microscope works along with other classified information was embedded in the article, you need a quantum microscope to view this information.
    In other words they ain’t sharing that information.

  • Tory Cooper

    Where’s an image of what they see though the “Microscope”? Only reason I came to this article

  • Yugo Furst

    It harnesses entangled kernels within the Wu field and converts them to kettle corn.

  • Cecilia Torres

    I can see what people with 20/20 vision can’t because my vision is very distorted so I don’t see regular what you guys see I see in between every ray of light I can see a lot of energy in between objects I can see numbers on everything so if you guys had my vision you can see everything I see too maybe we should think about that get some glasses that are with my vision so you can see what I see that’s all it would take you know cuz it is there you just can’t see it

  • John Kociuba

    Viruses, weaponry, spyware, oh my!

  • Bad Math

    But can it see why kids love Cinnamon Toast Crunch™?

  • Mitch Clogg

    Look, the Public Information Office at Queensland is not staffed by teeny scientists, only hard-working PR people.

  • Natasha

    Vague?

  • Robert

    I’m kinda worried about quantum terminators if you know what I mean !

  • Rp

    You misquoted Einstein.

  • Mariali

    QE is the essence where everything co-exist and relate, is the spider Web of energy exchanģing information in constant evolution developing the universal conscieness. Its the subtle and grandiose organism of what exist evolving….there is not emptiness . so any advance in quantum technology is a step ahead to reveal our source, our human potential for goodness (hopefully)

  • Michael Jane White

    Wow! Can you’see’the blockchain? Or God? Does he want you too?

  • Maximus Seneca

    The article sounds too bold and can mislead. We need to see a laser light shown on a living cell in contrast to the quantum version

  • Anto

    Studying the internal workings of the cell only to unlock the potential of one day living forever will just bring more misery in this dead beat World! What new Bio stock should I invest in 🤣…

  • Yeah I'm right again

    So it can zoom in far enough to see the brains in a democrat?

  • Sean S. Strain

    For those of you in the comments that are wondering what this will actually mean for the planet, look no further than the following quotes from the article: “This breakthrough will spark all sorts of new technologies — from better navigation systems to better MRI machines, you name it…” and “Entanglement is set to revolutionize computing, communication, and sensing…”

    Summed up, the first quote describes advances in warfare, and the second, advances in how we experience pornography.

  • Philip Chavez

    The majority of people posting here are a joke. Most people cannot program their echo or amazon tv, much less understand technology. A person’s vehicle has to almost drive itself, because people can not understand the basic laws of physics. Everyone wants instant gratification. What a society of self serving, egocentric people we are today. Maybe you should let the experts do their work and you try not to screw up your job at the dmv, insurance company etc. Most companies only want guantity over quality. We couldn’t produce a quality product to save our life. Im sure if the technology made it easier to get grub hub or make you a better Starbucks drink you would be behind it. I could go on all day, but I’m sure you brain surgeons need to get back to work.

  • Dr. Pat Muhnutz

    Soooo… Are they doing a quantum leap reboot or naw?

  • Joseph fafa

    Hello I’m soloist

  • Theodore Pearson

    First, Einstein “Spooky ACTIONS at a distance” OK this is the resulting opposite rotations of two particles created from high energy gamma rays. One particle’s rotation is not known until the other is detected and the particles can be far apart when this is observed.’layman’s description’
    So are the detecting electrons through a Josephson’s junction? JUST TELL US!!!!

  • michael beach

    Maybe can help with cancer????

  • Peter

    Should am untagged photon change its behavior being that it is watched by not being watched?

  • Kevin

    When one quark changes instantly when its other entangled quark at infinitu distance it truly is spooky.

  • Nick the scientist

    Nature article is amazing and groundbreaking; however, this Tech daily article is TERRIBLY written and misleading… What a poor interpretation of science.

  • GDz

    Watch out now

  • Michael VanDeMar

    A quantum microscope was not created. A method using quantum
    mechanics to enhance the resolution of existing microscopes was theorized, and an experiment was performed to demonstrate that it was possible.

    I hate pop science articles like this.

  • Trevor

    Would this at least help them identify a virus ;once and for all!!

  • Martín Schofield

    “This is exciting — it’s the first proof of the paradigm-changing potential of entanglement for sensing.” are you kidding me!

  • Kyle K.

    wahahaha you feeble minded fools wouldn’t have understood the intricacies of the theoretical quantum sciences involved even if they had attempted to explain it properly too you. 👨‍🔬😈

  • The Bartender

    Perfect information for my research paper

  • Awetmedic

    Can it see through the climate change hoax?

  • J, Toomey

    An energy that can only be detected by it’s effects. We found dark energy? At least one of them.

  • Gene

    It’s just an article with malware attached to it for the scientifically naive. We are now all entangled in it.

  • Will Kus

    Where wre all the skeptics about things that are actually important? Oh, they’re here posting comments. Why not work on something that requires a few more brain cells and actually goes against the rubber stamping of flimsy studies that receive little scrutiny but affect many policy decisions.

    The whole point of this article is to get people to add their emails and boost organic rankings. Who’s the smart one now?

  • Marc Abrams

    So never mentioned SEM (SCANNING ELECTRON MICROSCOPY) orTEM (TUNNILING ELECTRON MICROSCOPY). Both are the gold standards today. And we have A multitude of actual pictures of molécules, atoms and subatomic particals using these divices. Sheesh. Remindes me of the brief claim of the succssful fushion breakthrough génération in China. No mention of Tokamac containment. OR any other BRIEF, MINISCUAL information. Give us A break! PLEASE,dont underestimate everyone’s intelligence.

  • Bob

    Garbage 0 detail article. I just blocked you on my phone. Done with click baiting from you

  • V.A. Brown

    Be sure to give to the Chinese or let them steal it, so they don’t need to invest in R and D…..Intellectual property theft is their priority. How about letting them develop their own technology… Even the playing field

  • Anthony Garnett

    It is fairly bloody obvious how it works. One half of an entagled pair interacts with a structure. In that way it is in effect ‘measured’ In só doing the state of the other half of the pair is instananiously also ‘set’. Measure or detect THAT state an yer dun it! Innit!

  • True say

    And even this microscope couldn’t even identify the covid19 even if it tried!

  • Dirk Smit

    Nothing wrong with the article. The article was perfectly written. In fact the article is an example.

  • Jon Knowles

    Reading these comments, I’m guessing most of you are single?

  • J Velasquez

    Mind Blowing! Congratulations! I am ecstatic about your discovery. I’m expecting astounding advances in knowledge about Quantum Physics.

  • Getsexski

    Imagine what this will do for porn!

  • Alain Lalonde

    The real question I have is; can it un-see?! That would be handy…

  • Hui

    Entanglement

  • Geer

    Quantum computers have not been invented. Dumb

  • Erik

    Instead of allowing us to see the unseen, perhaps it would be put to better use if it could allow us to unsee things that we’ve been duped into seeing.

  • Javier T Rivera

    So basically we will start seeing super clean 5D movies and pictures while driving so we can be more distracted than ever before. And see any marks, acne, etc. Taking pictures maybe could see the dark side of moon?

  • M. Asghar

    Too vague the article either intentionaly or out of a basic confusion as to what is really going on. If the result is correct, one has to use two entangled photons. If one of these photons is scattered by the molecule, then, the scattered light has be detected under control of the other photon, thus, reducing the noise due to randomness and improving the “resolution” of the telescope.

  • J.M.Widon

    …..what they’ve been searchin for decades…..Eletromagnetic sphere/Spirit Realm….

    They’re looking to study whats poppin up here.

  • G Israel

    More details on its workings and some graphical examples could have been wonderful. Nevertheless, it’s a great achievement altogether.
    On the hand, hope this tech will not be Incorporated into the making of very deadly weapons!

  • Luke

    Moon pies….

  • Angel Vargas

    The mind requires absolute attention to creation mode where you can’t fall asleep for 3 days and walk outdoors so you can give your unconscious mind . The second face of creation is omitted not relevant info.
    And telekinesis is switched on. On a bidirectional path.

  • TEM

    I guess the person who wrote the article has never heard of electron microscopy or atomic force microscopy. Both have been imaging cellular structures for quite awhile now…

  • Karam Kallas

    How much data is this microscope computing daily and what is being studied with it ? protein structures that mediate cytoleukin release ?

  • Meremortal

    “Sean S. Strain | June 12, 2021 at 8:34 am | Reply

    Summed up, the first quote describes advances in warfare, and the second, advances in how we experience pornography.”

    All I need is this warfare. This warfare is all I need. And this porno. This warfare and porno are all I need.

    All you people griping about the dumbed-down writing need to tour one of today’s higher educational facilities to see and hear what’s actually being taught. Not everyone is a quant-sci ya know.