Genomic Science Program
U.S. Department of Energy | Office of Science | Biological and Environmental Research Program

2023 Abstracts

Development of Classically Entangled Light for Depth-Resolved Quantum Mimicry Bioimaging


Hui Min Leung1,2, and Chen-Ting Liao2,3* ([email protected])


1Harvard Medical School; 2University of Colorado–Boulder; and 3STROBE NSF Science and Technology Center


This project aims to build upon the principles of classical entanglement of light and develop new and untested (1) classes of anti-correlated light sources and (2) quantum-inspired imaging protocols that fit into the theoretical framework for recapitulating desirable super-performing imaging traits (e.g., the performance that surpasses those set by classical limits). More specifically, efforts will be focused on testing the quantum-like characteristics of newly developed light pulses and applying them to enhance the performance of optical coherence tomography, a label-free cross-sectional imaging method that is suited for in situ probing of plant biology.


Quantum imaging has attracted growing interest over the past three decades, motivated by successful demonstrations that it could outperform its classical counterpart in several aspects. However, challenges associated with the low brightness of entangled photons and reliance on photon-sparse imaging protocols have stalled attempts at translating those technologies to practical biological field use. Those issues have also necessitated long data acquisition times and make imaging of dynamical biological processes challenging. Surprisingly, several phenomena once thought to be exclusive to quantum entangled photons had been successfully replicated with classical light carrying anti-correlations or nonseparable degrees of freedom (e.g., spin and orbital angular momenta, wavelengths, spatial, and temporal modes). These discoveries gave rise to an emerging field known as classical entanglement or mode-entanglement of light, such as those involving arbitrarily tailored vector beams. The ability to perform quantum mimicry using special forms of classical light has far-reaching implications, both in the potential of overcoming inherent shortcomings of quantum light sources and in the practical considerations of translating those advantages for robust imaging applications. The project will perform research on the underpinning principles for optical wavefront and field control of structured vector beams, such that the knowledge can be applied to the design and construction of light sources for quantum mimicry imaging. Researchers will subsequently develop interferometric systems and image reconstruction protocols for optical coherence tomographic bioimaging based on the considerations for those classically entangled beams. Characterization of the imaging instrument and validation of its performance will be carried out to benchmark its performance against comparable technologies without classical entanglement. The expected outcomes could potentially lead to quantum-like imaging advantages without sacrificing optical brightness. The quantum-like advantages or enhancement pursued in this project include low-noise, high-sensitivity imaging through turbid and scattering media. These enhanced capabilities could benefit plant research on multiple fronts, from imaging dynamically evolving bio-events with high precision to probing photo-sensitive biosystems with the lowest dose possible. By collaborating with experts in plants and microbiological systems at a later phase of the project, the developed imaging technology will be designed to be applicable for future in situ imaging of plant biological systems relevant to biomass and bioenergy investigations.


Funding Information

This research was supported by the DOE Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER), grant no. DE-SC0023314.