Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have demonstrated a new type of detection technology called microwave quantum illumination that utilizes entangled microwave photons as a method of detection.
The prototype, which is also known as a ‘quantum radar’, is able to detect objects in noisy thermal environments where classical radar systems often fail. The technology has potential applications for ultra-low power biomedical imaging and security scanners.
The working principles behind the device are simple: Instead of using conventional microwaves, the researchers entangle two groups of photons, which are called the ‘signal’ and ‘idler’ photons. The ‘signal’ photons are sent out towards the object of interest, whilst the ‘idler’ photons are measured in relative isolation, free from interference and noise. When the signal photons are reflected back, true entanglement between the signal and idler photons is lost, but a small amount of correlation survives, creating a signature or pattern that describes the existence or the absence of the target object — irrespective of the noise within the environment.
the device has a few advantages over conventional classical radars. For instance, at low power levels, conventional radar systems typically suffer from poor sensitivity as they have trouble distinguishing the radiation reflected by the object from naturally occurring background radiation noise. Quantum illumination offers a solution to this problem as the similarities between the ‘signal’ and ‘idler’ photons — generated by quantum entanglement — makes it more effective to distinguish the signal photons (received from the object of interest) from the noise generated within the environment. (SciTechDaily)
The paper has been published in Science Advances.