Microscopes have transformed society, from the first discovery of cells and viruses, to 21st century precision medicine and pharmaceuticals. However, the best microscopes have hit a major barrier: the light they use is so intense that it can destroy the sample being looked at. We used quantum light to break this barrier for the first time. This is a first step into an exciting new era, where quantum technologies allow us to explore living systems far beyond the limits of existing technologies.

Better microscopes are crucial for biotechnology and medicine. However, they face a major problem. The best microscopes use light billions of times brighter than sunlight on Earth. Within them, biological samples often only survive for seconds.

We have developed microscope technology that evades this problem for the first time. Published only this month, our work is already a Nature “hot topic” and in the top 0.1% of all research on Altmetrics.

Our microscope uses a property called quantum entanglement, which Einstein described as “spooky action at a distance”. This allows us to see the inside of a cell with clarity that would otherwise be impossible without destroying the cell.

This was a major milestone in international quantum technologies roadmaps. It shows for the first time that entanglement can provide absolute benefits in sensing. This could have big ramifications – not only for microscopy, but also in many other areas such as global positioning, radar and navigation.

Tags: Quantum microscopes, Quantum Advantage, Quantum Sensing, Raman Microscopy, Biotechnology