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Science Technology

How To Build a Quantum Telescope 60

KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "The resolving power of telescopes is limited by the diffraction limit, a natural bound on resolution caused by the way light diffracts as it passes through a lens. But in recent years, physicists have worked out how to use quantum techniques to beat the diffraction limit. The trick is to create a pair of entangled photons, use one to illuminate the target and the other to increase the information you have about the first. All this is possible in the lab because physicists can use their own sources of light. Indeed, last month, physicists unveiled the first entanglement-enhanced microscope that beats the diffraction limit. But what about astronomy where the light comes from distant astrophysical sources? Now one physicist has worked out how to use quantum techniques to beat the diffraction limit in telescopes too. Her idea is to insert a crystalline sheet of excited atoms into the aperture of the telescope. When astrophysical photons hit this sheet, they generate an entangled pair of photons. One of these photons then passes through the telescope to create an image while the other is used to improve the information known about the first and so beat the diffraction limit. Of course, all this depends on improved techniques for increasing the efficiency of the process and removing noise that might otherwise swamp the astrophysical signal. But it's still the early days in the world of quantum imaging, and at least astronomers now know they're not going to be excluded from the fun."
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How To Build a Quantum Telescope

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  • by dak664 ( 1992350 ) on Monday April 07, 2014 @09:44AM (#46683631) Journal

    Yes, and what's more diffraction causes no fundamental limit to resolution, it just happens to be the distance between the first zeroes of an interference function. For two point sources of equal intensity that leads to an easily seen contrast difference of around 25% but trained observers can detect 5%. On electronic displays the contrast can be cranked up arbitrarily.

    The fundamental limit to resolution is signal-to-nose.

"Just think of a computer as hardware you can program." -- Nigel de la Tierre