Scanning quantum decoherence microscopy

Nanotechnology. 2009 Dec 9;20(49):495401. doi: 10.1088/0957-4484/20/49/495401. Epub 2009 Nov 11.


The use of qubits as sensitive nanoscale magnetometers has been studied theoretically and recently demonstrated experimentally. In this paper we propose a new concept, in which a scanning two-state quantum system is used to probe a sample through the subtle effects of decoherence. Mapping both the Hamiltonian and decoherence properties of a qubit simultaneously provides a unique image of the magnetic (or electric) field properties at the nanoscale. The resulting images are sensitive to the temporal as well as spatial variation in the fields created by the sample. As examples we theoretically study two applications; one from condensed matter physics, the other biophysics. The individual components required to realize the simplest version of this device (characterization and measurement of qubits, nanoscale positioning) have already been demonstrated experimentally.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Microscopy / methods*
  • Nanotechnology / methods*
  • Quantum Theory