US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — Quantum entanglement – this is a strange but extremely useful quantum phenomenon in which two particles are inextricably linked in space and time – can play an important role in future radar technology.
In 2008, an engineer from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology developed a way to use entanglement functions to illuminate objects using virtually any photon. In certain scenarios, such a technology promises to surpass conventional radar, according to its creators, especially in “noisy” thermal environments.
Now, researchers have gone further, demonstrating its potential with a working prototype.
This technology can ultimately find many uses in safety and biomedical fields: for example, creating more advanced MRI scanners or providing doctors with an alternative way to search for specific types of cancer.
“What we demonstrated is proof of the concept of microwave quantum radar,” said quantum physicist Shabir Barzanjeh, who led the work at the Austrian Institute of Science and Technology.
“Using the intricacies created a few thousandths of a degree above absolute zero, we were able to detect objects with low reflectivity.”
The device works on the same principles as a conventional radar, except that instead of sending radio waves to scan the area, pairs of entangled photons are used.
Entangled particles are distinguished by the fact that they possess properties that correlate with each other more than might be expected. In the case of a radar, one photon from each entangled pair, described as a photon signal, is sent to the object. The remaining photon, described as lazy, is in isolation, awaiting a report.
If the photon signal is reflected from the object and captured, it can be combined with a lazy photon to create a characteristic noise pattern that distinguishes the signal from other random noises.
Since the photons of the signal are reflected from the object, this actually destroys quantum entanglement. The study confirms that even when entanglement is broken, enough information remains to identify it as a reflected signal.
The biggest advantage over a conventional radar is that it ignores background radiation noise, which affects the sensitivity and accuracy of standard radars.
“The main idea of our study is that quantum radar or quantum microwave equipment is possible not only in theory but also in practice,” says Barzanjeh.
There are many opportunities here, although we should not get ahead of ourselves yet. Quantum entanglement remains an incredibly delicate process to control, and entanglement of photons initially requires a very accurate and ultracold medium.
Barzanjeh and his colleagues continue to develop the idea of quantum radar, which is another sign of how quantum physics can transform our technologies in the near future – in everything from communications to supercomputers.
“It will be interesting to see the future consequences of this study, especially for short-range microwave sensors.”
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