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IQT’s “Journal Club:” Quantum Sensing Could Be in Your Pocket

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By Kenna Hughes-Castleberry posted 26 Jan 2024

IQT’s “Journal Club” is a weekly article series that breaks down a recent quantum technology research paper and discusses its impacts on the quantum ecosystem.  This week looks at a Photonic Views paper about quantum sensing. 

A new Nature Communications study, researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Exciton Science at UNSW Sydney have unveiled a novel chip-scale approach that could transform ordinary smartphones into powerful quantum sensors. This innovative technique leverages organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) to image magnetic fields, a capability with far-reaching implications in various fields, including making quantum sensing more mobile.

OLEDs at the Forefront

The study focused on OLEDs, a technology already prevalent in consumer electronics like TVs and smartphones, to map magnetic fields through magnetic resonance. OLEDs are highly sensitive to magnetic fields, making them ideal candidates for this application. The study reveals that OLEDs can be utilized for sensing magnetic fields, crucial in scientific research, industrial applications, and medical fields, including MRI.

The research team employed two sophisticated techniques: electrically detected magnetic resonance (EDMR) and optically detected magnetic resonance (ODMR). These methods involve using a camera and microwave electronics to optically detect magnetic resonance, the principle underlying magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology.

Advantages of the New Approach of Mobile Quantum Sensing

One of the key advantages of this OLED-based sensing device is its compatibility with microchip-scale operations. Unlike traditional methods, it does not require optical pumping from high-powered lasers or extremely low cryogenic temperatures. This makes the device not only more accessible but also potentially mass-producible, small, and flexible.

Commercial Viability and Future Prospects

Dane McCamey of UNSW emphasized the device’s compatibility with existing OLED technologies, highlighting its potential to map magnetic fields over large areas or curved surfaces. He stated in a Photonic Views article: “Our device is designed to be compatible with commercially available OLED technologies, providing the unique ability to map the magnetic field over a large area or even a curved surface.” This compatibility paves the way for quantum sensing to be more easily integrated into commercial products.

Kenna Hughes-Castleberry is the Managing Editor at Inside Quantum Technology and the Science Communicator at JILA (a partnership between the University of Colorado Boulder and NIST). Her writing beats include deep tech, quantum computing, and AI. Her work has been featured in Scientific American, Discover Magazine, New Scientist, Ars Technica, and more.

Categories: photonics, quantum computing, sensing

Tags: Nature Communications, OLEDs, quantum sensing

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