Quantum mechanics could make sensors million time more effective

September 15th, 2008 - 3:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Sep 15 (IANS) A property of quantum mechanics could pave the way for creating incomparably better detectors and imaging systems than their existing counterparts, according to an MIT researcher.MIT mechanical engineering professor Seth Lloyd is hopeful of harnessing this quality, called entanglement, to make detectors — similar to that in radar systems — to make them a million times more efficient.

Besides, beams of entangled light could be swept across a scene to reconstruct a detailed image, with a similar improvement in efficiency.

The new findings are purely theoretical, but Lloyd said lab experiments have shown the light sources and detectors needed for such a quantum-based photo-detection system, would be feasible. So within a year it should be possible to build a lab-scale system to validate the new concept.

For example, military applications could include improved night-vision systems, which send out beams of invisible infrared light — to sweep across a scene, and then use an infrared detector to reconstruct an image from the light that is reflected back.

Theoretically, such a system could be used to allow medical diagnostic systems such as CT scans to work with a vastly reduced X-ray output, thereby making them much safer for the patient.

These findings will appear this week in the journal Science.

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