February 29, 2024

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Quantum Sensing Advances Subsurface Nanometrology

Image credits: ornl.gov

A recent nanoscience investigation, led by a scientist at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory within the Department of Energy provided a comprehensive overview of how researchers explore the tiniest material scales. Their research paper examines the forefront of subsurface nanometrology, a discipline focused on internal measurements at the nanoscale. It proposes that quantum sensing may lay the groundwork for this field’s next phase of breakthroughs.

Potential applications encompassed everything from mapping cellular structures to enhance targeted drug delivery to characterising quantum materials and nanostructures, contributing to the advancement of quantum computing.

Ali Passian, a senior research scientist at ORNL and the study’s senior author, explained, “Our objective was to assess the current state of the art and contemplate past achievements as well as future directions.”

Delving the materials to uncover their hidden secrets has always been compelling. Yet, genuinely unveiling what lies beneath remains a  challenge, irrespective of the scale at which it is attempted.

The aspiration is to ignite the curiosity of a new generation of scientists, motivating them to embrace this formidable challenge by harnessing the power of quantum phenomena or any other promising avenues that may emerge. In doing so, they envision pushing the boundaries of sensing and imaging science, facilitating profound discoveries and a deeper comprehension of the world.

At the heart of this quest are the particles residing at the nanoscale, which serve as the fundamental building blocks of quantum science. Their diminutive size grants scientists a unique capability: the ability to meticulously manipulate and fine-tune the basic properties of materials with unparalleled precision.

For instance, one nanometer corresponds to a minuscule one-billionth of a meter, a mere one-millionth of a millimetre, or a thousandth of a micrometre. To grasp the scale further, consider that the thickness of an average sheet of paper measures approximately 100,000 nanometers.

This remarkable capacity to delve into the realm of nanoscale phenomena opens up a world of possibilities for scientific exploration, where even the tiniest adjustments can lead to groundbreaking advancements in our understanding of materials and their properties.

Passian and his co-author, Amir Payam, proposed that the nanoscale level might serve not only as the domain where intricate molecular structures, such as cell membranes, come into existence but also as the realm where the dimensions of emerging materials, such as metasurfaces and quantum materials, align. He suggested that this aspect of nanoscale exploration still needs to be explored.

While significant strides have been made in advancing the nanometrology of surfaces because of innovative tools like the scanning probe microscope, which employs a finely pointed probe to scrutinise samples at the atomic level, the authors acknowledge that subsurface studies have achieved fewer comparable breakthroughs.

Passian observed, “All sensory capabilities are inherently attuned to surface-level phenomena. Although we have made significant progress in extending our reach to the nanoscale through methods involving light, sound, electrons, and minuscule probes, the challenge of accurately measuring subsurface materials persists.

They require novel techniques to peer into these materials without disturbing their integrity. Quantum science holds promise in this regard, particularly in quantum sensing. For example, they can harness the quantum states of the probe, the light, and the sample to unlock new possibilities in subsurface exploration.”

The authors proposed that emerging quantum sensing techniques, currently in their nascent stages of development, have the potential to revolutionise subsurface exploration. For example, quantum probes could leverage skyrmions, subatomic quasi-particles formed by magnetic field disruptions and already being considered for various other quantum applications. These quantum probes could delve deeper into materials than any existing methods permit.

Passian noted, “Researchers are diligently striving to expand the boundaries of detection and create novel measurement approaches. I anticipate that the next few years will be exhilarating as we witness the realisation and user-friendly deployment of these techniques, paving the way for the achievement of quantum nanometrology in both surface and subsurface domains.”

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Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

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CTC Global Singapore, a premier end-to-end IT solutions provider, is a fully owned subsidiary of ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation (CTC) and ITOCHU Corporation.

Since 1972, CTC has established itself as one of the country’s top IT solutions providers. With 50 years of experience, headed by an experienced management team and staffed by over 200 qualified IT professionals, we support organizations with integrated IT solutions expertise in Autonomous IT, Cyber Security, Digital Transformation, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

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Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.

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SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

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HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

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IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.

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