Quantum Microscopy and Biophysics
In any image, the number of detected probe particles is fundamentally limited, either due to finite acquisition times or probe-induced sample damage. In order to optimize the sensitivity of a microscope, the information that can be extracted from each detected probe particle has to be maximized. We achieve this by employing cavity enhancement (multi-pass microscopy, see fig 1 and ), quantum enhancement, and wave-front...more
In any image, the number of detected probe particles is fundamentally limited, either due to finite acquisition times or probe-induced sample damage. In order to optimize the sensitivity of a microscope, the information that can be extracted from each detected probe particle has to be maximized. We achieve this by employing cavity enhancement (multi-pass microscopy, see fig 1 and ), quantum enhancement, and wave-front shaping techniques.
One prominent example where this becomes important is cryogenic electron microscopy. Images have to be taken at low electron dose to avoid sample damage, at which point shot-noise (the statistical fluctuations in the number of detected electrons) and the small signal limit the achievable spatial resolution. In order to solve the atomic structure of a protein, tens of thousands of images have to be averaged to obtain one image of sufficient signal to noise. While this method had enormous impact on our understanding of biology (2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry), it cannot be applied to small proteins, or to proteins that exist in various folding configurations, due to insufficient signal-to-noise. This is a severe limitation given that misfoldings indicate, or cause, several diseases. Cavity and quantum enhanced measurement techniques can alleviate this problem, potentially reducing probe induced sample damage by more than one order of magnitude (see fig. 2 and ).
Richard Feynman once asked physicists to build better microscopes to be able to watch biology at work. Let’s get started! We are currently hiring talented and highly motivated master students, PhD students, and postdocs to work on one of the following experiments:
- Optical multi-pass microscopy  for live cell imaging
- Electron multi-pass microscopy  in collaboration with Stanford University (Prof. Kasevich) and the Quantum Electron Microscopy collaboration
- Wave-front shaping for sample-specific optimal phase imaging
- Wave-front shaping techniques for electrons
Please inquire directly with Thomas Juffmann.
Thomas Juffmann is also a team member of the science&art project ‚SEEC – photography at the speed of light’ (www.seecphotography.com). SEEC photography records how light propagates across objects, literally watching light (Greek: ‘photo’) in the process of writing (Greek: ‘graphy’) an image.
What you are looking at in the video: Pulsed lasers and gated detection allow to image the propagation of light. In this portrait, a pulse of light first propagates across one of the artists (Enar de Dios Rodriguez), and a few nanoseconds later a shadow is formed on a screen behind her.
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