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Diamonds may be the ultimate MRI probe, say Quantum physicists
Date:9/22/2009

carbon atoms, forming a small circuit capable of logic operations. Reading a quantum bit's spin informationa fundamental task for a quantum computerhas been a daunting challenge, but the team demonstrated that by transferring the information back and forth between the electron and the nuclei, the information could be amplified, making it much easier to read.

Still, NIST theoretical physicist Jacob Taylor said the findings are "evolutionary, not revolutionary" for the quantum computing field and that the medical world may reap practical benefits from the discovery long before a working quantum computer is built. He envisions diamond-tipped sensors performing magnetic resonance tests on individual cells within the body, or on single molecules drug companies want to investigatea sort of MRI scanner for the microscopic. "That's commonly thought not to be possible because in both of these cases the magnetic fields are so small," Taylor says. "But this technique has very low toxicity and can be done at room temperature. It could potentially look inside a single cell and allow us to visualize what's happening in different spots."

The Harvard University-based team also includes scientists from the Joint Quantum Institute (a partnership of NIST and the University of Maryland), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Texas A&M University.


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Contact: Chad Boutin
boutin@nist.gov
301-975-4261
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Source:Eurekalert

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