Physics of our days

Photon entanglement for life-science imaging: rethinking the limits of the possible

 a, b, c, d, e,  f
a International Laser Center of M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University, Vorobevy gory, Moscow, 119992, Russian Federation
b Lomonosov Moscow State University, Vorobevy Gory, Moscow, 119991, Russian Federation
c National Research Centre Kurchatov Institute, pl. akad. Kurchatova 1, Moscow, 123182, Russian Federation
d International Center for Quantum Optics and Quantum Technologies (the Russian Quantum Center), ul. Novaya 100, Skolkovo, Moscow Region, 143025, Russian Federation
e Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA
f Institute for Quantum Studies and Department of Physics, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA

Quantum entanglement is a powerful resource that revolutionizes information science, opens new horizons in communication technologies, and pushes the frontiers of sensing and imaging. Whether or not the methods of quantum entanglement can be extended to life-science imaging is far from clear. Live biological systems are eluding quantum-optical probes, proving, time and time again, too lossy, too noisy, too warm, and too wet to be meaningfully studied by quantum states of light. The central difficulty that puts the main roadblock on the path toward entanglement-enhanced nonlinear bioimaging is that the two-photon absorption (TPA) of entangled photons can exceed the TPA of uncorrelated photons only at the level of incident photon flux densities as low as one photon per entanglement area per entanglement time. This fundamental limitation has long been believed to rule out even a thinnest chance for a success of bioimaging with entangled photons. Here, we show that new approaches in nonlinear and quantum optics, combined with the latest achievements in biotechnologies, open the routes toward efficient photon-entanglement-based strategies in TPA microscopy that can help confront long-standing challenges in life-science imaging. Unleashing the full potential of this approach will require, however, high throughputs of virus-construct delivery, high expression efficiencies of genetically encodable fluorescent markers, high-brightness sources of entangled photons, as well as a thoughtful entanglement engineering in time, space, pulse, and polarization modes. We demonstrate that suitably tailored nonlinear optical fibers can deliver entangled photon pairs confined to entanglement volumes many orders of magnitude smaller than the entanglement volumes attainable through spontaneous parametric down-conversion. These ultracompact modes of entangled photons are shown to enable a radical enhancement of the TPA of entangled photons, opening new avenues for quantum entanglement in life-science imaging.

Typically, an English fulltext is available in about 3 months from the date of publication of the original article.

Keywords: nonlinear optics, nonlinear microscopy, quantum optics, bioimaging
PACS: 03.65.−w, 03.65.Ta, 03.65.Ud, 03.65.Yz, 03.67.−a, 32.80.Qk (all)
DOI: 10.3367/UFNe.2020.03.038743
Citation: Zheltikov A M, Scully M O "Photon entanglement for life-science imaging: rethinking the limits of the possible" Phys. Usp. 63 (7) (2020)

Received: 7th, February 2020, 25th, March 2020

:   ,    « : ?» 190 749–761 (2020); DOI: 10.3367/UFNr.2020.03.038743

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