Science and Tech: Picturing Schrodinger's cat- Quantum physics enables revolutionary imaging method

The cats represent the famous Schrödinger cat paradox, in which a quantum cat closed in a box can be dead and alive at the same time. The dark and light cat bodies are images of a cardboard cut-out. They arise due to destructive and constructive quantum interference, respectively. In this experiment the photons that interact with the cardboard cut-out are not detected, while the images are obtained by detecting only photons that never interact with the object. Credit: Gabriela Barreto Lemos

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (IQOQI), the Vienna Center for Quantum Science and Technology (VCQ), and the University of Vienna have developed a fundamentally new quantum imaging technique with strikingly counterintuitive features. For the first time, an image has been obtained without ever detecting the light that was used to illuminate the imaged object, while the light revealing the image never touches the imaged object.

In general, to obtain an image of an object, one has to illuminate it with a light beam and use a camera to sense the light that is either scattered or transmitted through that object. The type of light used to shine onto the object depends on the properties that one would like to image. Unfortunately, in many practical situations, the ideal type of light for the illumination of the object is one for which cameras do not exist.


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