- The new technology uses entangled microwave photons as a detection method.
- The prototype device is able to detect objects in thermal environments where classic radar systems often fail.
- It can also be used as low-power short-range radar.
Physicists from the Austrian Institute of Science and Technology with colleagues from UK, Canada, Italy and US created a prototype radar that uses quantum entanglement to detect an object. This technology may be used in biomedical scanners with ultra-low power consumption in the future.
The Institute of Science and Technology Austria is an international research institute in natural and mathematical sciences, located in Maria Gugging, Klosterneuburg, 20 km northwest of the Austrian capital of Vienna.
According to the Stefan-Boltzmann law, anybody with a temperature above absolute zero radiates energy. The higher the temperature, the higher the energy. The new technology uses entangled microwave photons as a detection method. The prototype device is able to detect objects in thermal environments where classic radar systems often fail.
Further development of quantum sensing technology has the potential for non-invasive scanning methods, for visualization of human tissues, or for use in non-destructive rotational spectroscopy of proteins. Another application could be as a low-power short-range radar.
“What we have demonstrated is proof of the concept of microwave quantum radar,” says lead author Shabir Barzanjeh, whose previous research helped advance the theoretical concept behind quantum-enhanced radar technology. “Using the entanglement created by a few thousandths of a degree above absolute zero, we were able to detect objects with low reflectivity at room temperature.”
Barzanjeh is an assistant professor at the University of Calgary Faculty of Science Institute of Quantum Science and Technology.
The principles of the device are simple: instead of using conventional microwaves, researchers confuse two groups of photons, which are called “signal” and “blank” photons. “Signal” photons are directed to the object of interest, while” blank ” photons are measured in relative isolation, free from interference and noise.
When signal photons are reflected back, the true entanglement between signal and blank photons is lost, but a small correlation is maintained, creating a signature or pattern that describes the existence or absence of the target object – regardless of the noise within the environment.
The researchers presented a technology called microwave quantum illumination and based on entangled photons. In quantum entanglement, two particles remain interconnected no matter how far apart they are. This allows the radar to work even in conditions of high thermal noise, in which classical systems are often ineffective.
Scientists confused photons at a temperature several thousandths of a degree above absolute zero (-273.14 ° C). One group of photons, called signal photons, was sent to the object, and another group, called blank photons, was measured under conditions without interference or noise. When signal photons are reflected from an object, the entanglement is destroyed, but a correlation is maintained by which the presence or absence of the target object can be determined.
Although quantum entanglement itself is fragile in nature, the device has several advantages over conventional classical radars.
The work is titled “Microwave quantum illumination using a digital receiver.”
It is a very positive development in the field.