Editorial Feature

What is a Multidimensional Sensor?


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Some mistake multidimensional sensors for 3D sensors; those sensors that can accurately detect and model three-dimensional terrain and objects. In quantum physics, multidimensional sensors are something completely different. Quantum mechanics bring increased accuracy that traditional sensing equipment is unable to provide due to traditional limitations.

Quantum Illumination

It is important to mention quantum illumination in this context. Employing a strong correlation between entangled photon pairs, quantum illumination enables a significant improvement in sensing remote targets under noisy background conditions. Classical sensors are unable to filter out much of the background noise present, leading to inaccurate data. Quantum illumination leads the topic neatly into the underlying technology used in quantum sensors; multidimensional hypercubes.

Multidimensional Hypercubes

Multidimensional hypercubes can be used for highly sensitive quantum sensors. Until 2001, there were only two classical states in quantum mechanics. Referencing Schrodinger’s theory, quantum states existed in only two superpositions (the dead/alive cat). Then in 2001, another superposition was discovered accidentally; the compass state. Instead of two, we now have four superpositions much like the four states of a compass.

Martin Ringbauer, from the University of Experimental Physics at the University of Innsbruck, uses an example of throwing a stone into water to highlight the differences as multiple ripples disperse and cause more ripples.

The example of the stone in the water, shows that even large stones cause fine patterns in the superposition of the waves. These can be considerably smaller than the stones that trigger them. The same applies to the stones that trigger them.

Martin Ringbauer, 2019

This same effect applies to quantum states. The corners of a multidimensional hypercube are a minimal size, but the quantum interference patterns become increasingly finer in relation to the dimension of the hypercube.

When you look at the hypercube, it becomes easier to see how and why it can detect more than classical sensing technology. The increased accuracy multidimensional hypercubes provide is eye-opening and almost limitless the more we learn about them. The technology can also benefit existing optical sensing technology used in medicine. For example, the 0s and 1s binary method of understanding photon correlation do not take into account the landscape which is complex and multidimensional. It has degrees of freedom including time and frequency that traditional sensing technology cannot detect, let alone comprehend.

Even optical quantum sensors can achieve higher accuracy with less light. Single-photon detectors cannot cope and struggle to take images of the multidimensional correlations. This is important for the examination of biological systems such as living cells, something that medical professionals have to treat carefully, and where quantum sensors come into their own.

Real-World Applications of Multidimensional Sensors

Multidimensional sensors represent an incredible real-world potential. Applying technology in medicine could be incredible for things such as brain imaging.

The current magnetoencephalography (MEG) scanners rely on large heavy equipment that has to be cooled by liquid nitrogen or liquid helium. In reality, this means the technology cannot go near a person’s skull to measure brain activity, instead of having to rely on distant measurements with the help of sensors. Multidimensional quantum sensors could be incorporated into a helmet which can then be put on a human skull enabling doctors to improve measurement activity.

The benefits of multidimensional sensors could help with things like Alzheimer’s and cancer treatments. Being able to observe time-sensitive effects in the body such as the growth of cancerous tissue is something that could radically change the way we beat the disease. There is much to be excited about this technology.

References and Further Reading

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John Allen

Written by

John Allen

John is an award-winning writer and speaker. He holds a BA Hons. in Theological Studies from the University of Exeter as well as diplomas from the London School of Journalism and the Open University. John has worked in both the healthcare and digital sectors researching and writing about the latest developments in life sciences, robotics, space exploration, and nanotechnology.


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