They have called the detection technology 'microwave quantum illumination' otherwise known as quantum radar. The technique 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 researchers claim.
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 team is drawn from the research group of Professor Johannes Fink at Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) together with Stefano Pirandola from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of York and David Vitali from the University of Camerino, Italy.
"What we have demonstrated is a proof of concept for Microwave Quantum Radar," said lead author Shabir Barzanjeh.
The research is published in the journal Science Advances .
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