Scientists have developed a ‘quantum radar’ that could be used to conduct MRI scans with less radiation inflicted upon patients.
The researchers from the University of York, UK, said that their new technology works with lower energies than traditional systems.
“Such a non-invasive property is particularly important for short-range biomedical applications,” said Stefano Pirandola, who led the team.
“In the long-term, the scheme could be operated at short distances to detect the presence of defects in biological samples or human tissues in a completely non-invasive fashion, thanks to the use of a low number of quantum-correlated photons.
“Our method could be used to develop non-invasive NMR spectroscopy of fragile proteins and nucleic acids.
“In medicine, these techniques could potentially be applied to magnetic resonance imaging, with the aim of reducing the radiation dose absorbed by patients.”
The new type of radar is a hybrid system that uses quantum correlation between microwaves and optical beams.
This correlation can then detect objects that have low reflectivity, such as cancer cells, which traditional systems struggle with.
The device can generate a beam that is a microwave-optical combination, or convert a microwave into an optical beam.
This is compared to a traditional radar antenna, which emits a microwave to scan a given area.
A problem for traditional radar set-ups is that they are unable to reflect the signal of objects that have a low reflectivity and those that are in regions inside the body with a high amount of background noise.
The new combined system is able to use the quantum entanglement of optical and microwave to operate more effectively.
This means that they are able to be more sensitive and detect small signal reflections from areas that are noisy.