Absolute quantum advantage in light microscopy

Professor Warwick Bowen
Leader, Queensland Quantum Optics Laboratory, School of Mathematics and Physics, The University of Queensland
Director, The University of Queensland Precision Technologies Translation Hub

State-of-the-art microscopes use intense lasers that can severely disturb biological processes, function and viability. This introduces hard limits on performance that only quantum photon correlations can overcome. In this talk I will report recent work from my laboratory which demonstrates this absolute quantum advantage [1]. We show, specifically, that quantum correlations enable signal-to-noise beyond the photodamage-free capacity of conventional microscopy. Broadly, this represents the first demonstration that quantum correlations can allow sensing beyond the limits introduced by optical intrusion upon the measurement process. We achieve this in a coherent Raman microscope, which we use to image molecular bonds within a cell with both quantum-enhanced contrast and sub-wavelength resolution. This allows the observation of nanoscale biological structures that would otherwise not be resolved. Coherent Raman microscopes allow highly selective biomolecular finger printing in unlabelled specimens, but photodamage is a major roadblock for many applications. By showing that this roadblock can be overcome, our work provides a path towards order-of-magnitude improvements in both sensitivity and imaging speed. I will also report on other progress at the interface of quantum measurement and bioscience, including the development of a new optical tweezers-based viscosity measurement technique that is orders-of-magnitude faster than has been previously possible [2].

[1] C. A. Casacio, L. S. Madsen, A. Terrasson, M. Waleed, K. Barnscheidt, B. Hage, M. A. Taylor, and W. P. Bowen, Quantumenhanced nonlinear microscopy, Nature 594 201 (2021).
[2] L. S. Madsen, M. Waleed, C. A. Casacio, A. Terrasson, A. B. Stilgoe, M. A. Taylor, and W. P. Bowen, Ultrafast viscosity measurement with ballistic optical tweezers, Nature Photonics 15 386 (2021).

Professor Warwick Bowen earned a PhD in Physics at the ANU in 2004, and was recruited to a faculty position in the Department of Physics at the University of Otago in 2005. In 2008, he commenced a faculty position at the School of Mathematics and Physics at the University of Queensland, where he became a full Professor in 2016. His research focuses on the implications of quantum science on precision measurement, and applications of quantum measurement in areas ranging from quantum condensed matter physics to the biosciences. He is Director of the University of Queensland Precision Technologies Translation Hub, and a Theme Leader of the ARC CoE for Engineered Quantum Systems. His lab has significant efforts in using quantum light and quantum-limited technologies to improve biological microscopy, as well as conducting research on integrated photonics, quantum control of macroscopic mechanical devices, and superfluid helium physics. Prof. Bowen’s research is supported by the Australian Research Council, the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Lockheed Martin, the US Army Research Office and the Australian Defence Science and Technology Group.

Join the Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 9411 1701 666 
Password: 664 425

Date & time

Thu 21 Oct 2021, 11am–12pm


Via Zoom


Members of RSPE welcome